Monday, June 20, 2011

A Part-Time Kinda Life

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.


  1. You've got that right! I worked in upper level construction management until two years ago when I lost my job. I used to be answering phone calls and e-mails 24/7, had a long commute and always put in about 60 hours at the office. As much as I loved my job, I really have no desire to go back to it. Boy, life is good staying home and enjoying the best things in life! I do use my skills working on some projects with "The Italian" since he is an architect.

  2. Oh my, we have lots in common here. I was a workin' machine! Never stopped, always thinking, always doing. And then one day, very abruptly I did stop. Cold turkey. I looked at my life and said "Enough!" Never been happier. Now don't get me wrong, I still go, think and do. But for all the right reasons, all the right people. It's amazing how taking that step back has put us forward.

    You are on to something here! I hope your days are as precious and valuable as ever and most importantly that you have JOY in your life!

    Money can drive ya nuts and it sure is a wonderful feeling to have it, but even better to use it wisely. Be a slave to yourselves instead!

  3. If you do the math on what being home to do things for yourself works out to be, plus the cost of gas, clothes, lunches out, office gifts, etc that you no longer have to spend, you often find you are making more money to stay home. I was astonished when I did this because I worked full time and I thought I made good money. I quit and never looked back.

  4. Very true, money is not everything and I am glad that working part time has exposed you to other great lifestyle. I use to be a workaholic myself, but now i am enjoying the simple life. Great writing!

  5. How right you are, tami! Glad you can see the merits of less work time. Love this post!

    When we decided that I would stay home with Lil' guy, it turned out to be such a blessing. We stagger our work schedules (I work part-time). As we rarely eat out, enjoy making real food from scratch and take advantage of outdoor time at state parks and other almost free activities, we live simply and have a lot of free time. It works if you are willing to do more with less. And we do. Life's never been better...