Is full time employment right for you?
Part-time FIRE, barista FIRE, leisurly FIRE, time for other projects or unable to work full time for health reasons. Whatever you want to call it, I want to call attention to it.
The trend I see from a lot of other bloggers in the personal finance world, is that in order to reach FIRE (financial independence, retire early), you should get a second job, maybe even a third job. Hell, sidehustle a bit on the side while you’re at it to really kick it as soon as possible!
Whew. As an introvert with ample need for quiet downtime and holes in my schedule to just wind down, I can tell you straight away that I would not be able to do that. A great, big kudos to those who can, but my heart rate increases just thinking about it.
Many years before I heard of the financial independence movement in personal finance, I had an idea that I kinda, really wanted to work part time. I knew my needs were few and my budget pretty modest. I did not believe it would inflate that much beyond frugal student mode.
Why then, would I work 5 days a week, 8 hours a day to earn at least 3 times more than I did as a student, when I didn’t need that much money? My conclusion back then was simple: Ideally, I would have liked to get a job in my field where I had to work only 3-4 days a week, liberating almost twice as much free time for personal projects, relaxation, errands, sidehustles and random shenanigans.
Of course, what I didn’t know then was that part time jobs in the environmental/analytical chemistry section were incredibly rare. They exists, but don’t crop up that often. You are usually expected to be all in when you’re in this field, something I had not known when I first started down that education path.
When not to pursue part-time
It should go without saying, but if you’re paying down credit card debt, personal loans or other high interest loans, this is probably not the time to cut down unless there are health reasons in the picture.
Similarly, if you’re currently hyper-focused on saving up for a down payment for a house, you can probably keep that up until you reach your goal.
But in line with my open letter to M, I am constantly trying to find a balance between happiness now and happiness in the future. Experience has told me that happiness in the future can be a gamble, so better make sure you’re in as good a place as possible on the journey as well.
I am not saying you should go forth and splurge on all the things, because who knows what could happen in the future. I just think everything in life should be up for grabs when it comes to taking a critical look at it and making sure that you’re making a conscious decision with eyes wide open.
Know all the consequences, as well as the advantages.
My first reason for wanting part time
Errands. Plain and straight. Time to spend with friends during the day was also an enchanting prospect, but the first reason was errands. As a student, I was so used to being able to run errands during daytime in the middle of the week, compared to the crowded weekends.
Even now, closing in on a year since I got hired, I am still trying to internalise the fact that my employer allows employees to schedule doctor’s and dentist’s appointments in the middle of working hours without docking pay. You don’t even technically have to work it in again, but I feel like I should any way.
A part time solution would resolve this without any mental back-and-forth or doubt. Simply schedule on an imaginary weekday when I’m off any way, and everybody wins!
Such a solution would also be a good time to put in more work on any sidehustle of choice. Not just that, but it would make it possible to invest more time, without sacrificing quality time with Mr. E. Both of which are highly relevant to my interests.
When does it make sense to pursue part time?
And why is the 40-hour workweek the norm anyway? Why not 60? or 30? Why that particular number? It has nothing to do with earning a living wage, or humans being somehow designed to sit in an office, stand in a store or work manual labour for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week.
But I think that if we have found our forever home, we are covering our daily needs easily, and want more free time to either pursue passion projects/side hustles or work on said forever home, why not consider part time?
True, a big caveat here is that our primary goal is not to achieve financial independence through dividend income, but employer independence through sidehustles and passive(ish) income.
If your goal is to save up as much as possible as fast as possible to reap the dividends, go for it! Everyone does it a little differently and for different reasons.
I also think that if your mental or physical health is requiring it and your finances allow it, that is just as good a reason as any to step back, if you are able to. I recognise that a lot of employers, especially in the US, would sooner fire you than work with you, and that is something to take into consideration. And I also appreciate that some people are stuck in part time employment while wanting full time.
Over to you
I am still working full time, working towards that big, hairy goal. With a clear goal in front of me, it is easier to accept the daily grind. Back when I didn’t have as much focus, part time was the focus. Now I just hope to get my sidehustles up and running to a sufficient degree before my contract runs out.
What about you? Have you ever considered stepping down? What was your reason? How did it work? Do you regret it? Please let us know in the comments!