Career Moves and Decisions

This week, someone from my past reached into the present and dropped a job offer on my lap.

If this job offer had appeared three years ago, I would have taken it in a heartbeat. It allows me to work from home. It allows me to take complete control of an interesting software development project in an area where I have some significant domain knowledge and experience.

After some thought, I turned it down.

It’s not that we couldn’t utilize the money – we certainly could. It’s not that I wouldn’t find the work itself interesting – I certainly would.

The reason I didn’t take the job is for two real reasons.

First, to do so would have meant a serious change to The Simple Dollar. In 2006 and 2007, I managed to keep The Simple Dollar going while working a full time job, but it was my only hobby, I had only one child at the time, and most of the articles back then were not nearly up to the standards of the articles I write today. Today, I have three children of different ages (meaning they each have different needs), plus The Simple Dollar requires significantly more effort than it did back then, with more readers, more emails, more comments, and more effort required for a worthwhile post.

If I were to take on a full-time effort, it would have to come at the expense of The Simple Dollar. That’s not really a choice I want to make at this time.

Second, this would be a return to work that didn’t incorporate my family. With The Simple Dollar, I can engage in activities that support the site while also engaging with my family. If I work to make an inexpensive, healthy, and tasty dinner, I can not only feed my family, but I can format that into an article. The line between work and home life often blurs in a way that my family really benefits from.

If I took this job, I would no longer have such opportunities, and the aspect of my life that would be shortchanged is my family. The entire reason I chose to take the pay cut and go full time with The Simple Dollar is for my family, so that I could spend much more time with and much more attention and focus on them.

The real lesson here is that sound financial management in my life is the only thing that makes this choice possible. By keeping spending in check, always spending less that we earn, and planning ahead for the future, my wife and I are both free to make career decisions like these.

That type of freedom is well worth giving up trips to Best Buy and daily lattes and whatever else we might be spending money unnecessarily on. Our career choices aren’t constrained by needing to maintain our income level to survive. Our only major monthly bill is our mortgage and we’re working as hard as we can to make that one go away quite early.

What else does that freedom afford us?

For the past few weeks, I’ve been developing a website with a friend that focuses on discussing board and card games as a social and intellectual activity. At this stage, we’re brainstorming ideas and I’m filtering them a bit utilizing what I’ve learned from The Simple Dollar. This is engaging to me because it hits the requirements I stated above – it engages my family (as I can play games with them) and it doesn’t detract from The Simple Dollar.

Maybe this will take off. Maybe it will never see the light of day. In either case, I have the freedom to work on it and the knowledge that I can ride it wherever it may lead. If it fails, I’m financially secure enough to just mark it up as experience.

Frugality and good financial planning underlines everything in this post. It puts you in control of your career instead of being at the mercy of your boss. It puts you in control of your life instead of at the mercy of your cell phone.

That, to me, is worth giving up buying stuff I don’t really need and not having the best of everything at all times.

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