Work / Life Balance

Seriously, how great is Sweden? This country consistently ranks in the top 10 in the world in health, quality of life and GDP per capita measures.  They have low levels of income inequality, provide universal healthcare and free post-secondary education. Not to mention,  everyone is beautiful and their pop music is pretty amazing.  As if this weren’t enough, they’ve proven that they are, once again, eons ahead of the rest of the world by making a shift towards a shorter workday.

It was with this in mind that I recently accepted a role that allows me to work about 32 hours per week. Being paid hourly and taking a cut in my hours means that I’ll gross roughly $20k less per year. However, my income tax bill will end up being about $8k less. And my closer, 32 hour/week job will cut my commute to just 15 minutes, saving about $2k in annual mileage costs. So overall, I’m giving up $10k/year in exchange for 8 fewer working hours and 5 fewer commuting hours per week. I should have done this ages ago.

My new hours / role start in February. I feel less stressed already and just need to figure out what I’m going to do with all of this free time.

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Our Brave New World

I started out the day by reading this article. It gives a voice to the plight of today’s young people. It seems that globally, millennials are uniformly disillusioned and disengaged as they struggle to gain their footing in a world rocked by one economic crisis after another. Tuition is sky rocketing, good jobs are hard to find (and keep), and pensions are virtually nonexistent in the private sector. It’s almost enough to make a fellow millennial (like yours truly) ball up into a fetal position on the floor.

Luckily, it’s not all bad news. Thanks to technological advances, we have access to more food, medicine and information than ever. Not only are we the best educated generation, but we can learn about literally anything with a few clicks. We can communicate readily with folks living on the other side of the planet. We have more religious and sexual freedoms and won’t hesitate to rethink traditional ideology to suit our way of life.
So are we better or worse off overall? Well that’s a matter of perspective. For the most part, it’s no longer possible to graduate high school, get a job in manufacturing, work the next 40 years for the same company then retire with a defined benefit pension. But maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Would we want to revert to a time where women were relegated to pink collar jobs, men were the sole head of households and success was defined by who had the most stuff? I think not.
Millennial woman are earning more degrees than their male counterparts. We can choose to pursue our passions, travel the world, experience life and set our own goals. We are no longer dependent on a single person (be it our husbands or our bosses) for our livelihood and/or well being. We have never rested on our laurels and been taken care of, and as a result, we are motivated, financially savvy and on the lookout for the next opportunity. Corporate America hasn’t shown us any loyalty and thus, has not earned ours in return.
Perhaps this is just wishful thinking, but I really think our generation will redefine not only the world of work, but will begin to redefine success. It’s with this in mind that I’ve decided to make it my goal to reach financial independence by age 33. So wish me luck and feel free to join me on my journey to leave the rat race by November 8, 2017.