Back when the Great Recession hit (cough) my employer, like many others, cut costs where it affected them the most. Payroll. Over the past few years I've watched our staff be cut in half. The ones left standing, me included, experienced a 25% pay cut, sizable increases in our health care costs and reduced hours. Who new this would be my new normal.
This month marks my third year working at 32 hours a week. This is still considered "full time" by my employer so I still qualify for benefits, but it sure feels like part-time to me.
SM and I had hoped on a retirement where we worked when we wanted (or needed) to and take off in the winters to RV and travel. We would then come home during the spring, summer and fall to work (for the money to pay for the traveling) and to take advantage of the nice weather to garden. This is still our hope. Our jello plan for our future.
I did the math the other day. I work 4 days a week and have the other 3 off. If the month has 30 days in it, I'm only working 16 of them. 50% of the time I work for "The Man." The other 50% is mine.
I'm kinda liking this part-time kinda life.
At first I fussed and considered switching jobs. I even thought of picking up a second job. But a funny thing happened during the past 3 years. I relaxed. In a way, I was forced into analyzing how I spent my free time. I starting gardening, preserving, blogging. All of these things take time.
We used to eat out, buy convenience foods, pick up take out pizza. Now, I home cook pretty much everything. I'm learning new skills that actually improve my life.
I admit I used to be a workaholic. I went in early and stayed late. I would often be thinking about work on my days off. Boy, has a lot changed. I go into work on time and leave when I'm finished. I hardly give work a thought on my days off.
About 5-7 years ago I work with a charming young lady, Dina, whose family had moved back and forth between the US and Greece. She'd only been with us 6 months or so and she asked for the entire month of August off for her vacation time. Say what? Dina gave me an education in how europeans managed their work lives. They don't work 40 hours a week, take month long holidays and retire early. Now I know Greece is in a really sorry situation now...but to tell you the truth, back then, it sounded like a pretty sweet deal to me. Dina only got 2 weeks off, not a month, but she opened my eyes to the fact there's more to life than the time clock I'd been punching.
This is how it's supposed to be. But I had to be forced into it. It wasn't something I looked for. I don't think my employer will go back a 40 hour week anytime soon. The recession looks like it will be a long one. By the time things pick back up I may very well be at the point in my life where I decide to continue this part-time kinda life.
After all, money isn't everything.