Last week, C from The Single Dollar asked an important question. She wondered why I would quit my lucrative and enjoyable job rather than just throw money at the lack of margin in my life. Basically, why don't I practice Rich DIK privilege (Dual Income with Kids)?
I think this is an excellent question, mainly because if I don't quit my job that's exactly what we will do.
What are my career aspirations?
In her comment, C mentioned that I love my job. This is not precisely true though I use the word love as shorthand to explain that I am on the high tier of engaged employees in the workplace. Of those who are working, approximately 15% feel something akin to what I feel about work.
Despite the fact that I am highly engaged in the workforce, I am not necessarily content with my career. I would actually prefer to throw myself into my work even more, and to grow into a strategic corporate finance role.
The problem with wanting to throw yourself into work if you've got kids is that you either need a stay at home spouse, to be a frugal entrepreneur, or to earn a lot of money. I earn a lot of money, but I don't live in an area where I find many of the jobs or companies appealing, so I can't throw myself into my work much more than I am already.
I aspire to a career in corporate finance in a large company, but I am not willing to pursue my career at the expense of my family. I will need to wait for a career pivot until Rob is done with school. Hanging onto my job will probably help me pursue this goal, but that's not a given (in my opinion).
Could I successfully spend money to gain more margin?
Interestingly, if I continue to work while I'm here in Raleigh, I know that we will spend more money. We will hire a full time nanny (additional spending of $8-10K per year), and we might spend more on sanity services (like housekeeping or hiring someone else to do renovations or home repair).
Even with additional spending, I estimate that we would continue to save/invest somewhere around $35K per year for the duration of our tenure.
The big advantage to "throwing money at the problem" is that I maintain my career, and make it easier to "switch up" later on when we move to a larger city. The downside (as anyone who is pursuing early retirement will be quick to point out) is that I am essentially paying to work when I have the option to not work.
Would I enjoy staying at home with my kids?
I think that I will find staying home with my kids incredibly rewarding, and incredibly boring. Toddlers talk about the same few topics, and they often pee their pants. Babies need constant attention, and they don't explain their needs well. I don't particularly like to do much in the homemaking realm (other than cooking which I LOVE to do), but I inexplicably place a high value on having me (or Rob) home with our littles.
I have started freelance writing, and I enjoy writing this blog which means I'll have an hour or two of mental stimulation per day. I also have many intelligent friends who are stay at home moms, so maybe I can hang out with them. I'm more than a little worried about the boredom factor, but at the same time the heart wants what it will.
Would we rather throw money at the problem or not earn much money?
This brings me to the crux of the Rich DIK privilege. Unlike many people of my age/stage in life, we actually have the choice. We can either choose to throw money at some of our problems while I try to build up a career here in Raleigh. We can choose to just save a bunch of money as I work as an average (if engaged) employee, or I can quit working and drag along some semblance of a career, and hope to build it later on.
For some reason, I don't have a lot of fear of being able to build a career later on if I exit the workforce. This is probably naieve, but I've never had trouble pitching myself, and explaining how I add value. Additionally, I personally believe that we overemphasize career continuity when our economy no longer rewards loyalty. I don't have a perfect answer, but as a rich DIK, I have the privilege to opt out, and that is the direction I'm headed right now.
When it comes to work and family life, parents in general and mothers in partciular do not face easy choices. There is a weightiness to the choice of being a high powered career woman who opts out of the workplace, but for now, quitting"to" family rather than spending "to" career is a higher value.
I'm a wife, a mom, an employee, and a personal finance nerd who is devoted to spreadsheeting my way through life.