Category Archives: Career

Never Get a Promotion Again: I Can Only Hope

Along the lines of my post the other day “Why I’ll Never Ask for a Raise,” today I decided I really don’t want an increase in job title ever again. While I’m sad that my earning potential is likely at its plateau for the rest of my working career, minus a few cost-of-living raises here and there, I’m fairly set on the reality that my abilities stop at this level.

What I’m not is a manager of a big team. I’m not someone who sets strategies and has other people do the work. I do the work. And that’s ok. It’s ok, because I feel in control of the output. And I don’t want to take credit for anyone else’s contributions. The best way I can help an organization is by getting shit done. My biggest challenge is not overcommitting, and focusing on adding value doing what I do best. Continue reading

Who can afford to own a house?

I’ve committed to remaining in our $2500/month one bedroom apartment for as long as we can stand it with our soon-to-be child. I’ve even gotten to appreciate the forced closeness we’ll have living in a small space with kiddo, especially in the first year when it’s recommended baby sleeps in the same room with parents…

However, I’m very concerned about what happens “next.” Yes, we can leave this overpriced corner of the country and live somewhere that a much lower salary would enable home ownership. I don’t even care about “owning” so much as I care about being able to afford some sort of residence that feels less like an apartment and more like a home. A townhouse would be perfectly fine, especially if it has a little grassy area in the back, and a community park nearby… Continue reading

Why I’ll Never Ask for a Raise

At my last job, I negotiated like a boss coming into my role. I managed to be rewarded with a base salary of $190k–even though it made my hiring manager clearly feel uncomfortable–and I regretted that negotiation every day on the job, feeling like I couldn’t live up to that value. That job lasted less than two years.

In my current role, I was fortunate to have a hiring manager who knew me from a prior position, and I trusted he would get me the best / fair offer possible. Could I have pushed for a few thousand dollars more a year? Sure. But would leave a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. The comp package was quite attractive–base salary a lot less than I had been making, but I knew making less would me feel more comfortable in my position. With bonus and such, the comp would be about the same as my prior role — but bonus isn’t real until it happens. Continue reading

Nothing Lasts Forever

My last boss (the one who fired me) — who joined the company after I was there for about a year and a few months — has apparently left after an even shorter tenure than the one I managed to maintain prior to getting the axe. I have no idea why she left — I can only guess, and I have plenty of guesses–but why she left doesn’t matter. The fact that she left less than a year after firing me means that clearly I wasn’t the problem. Or the only problem.

Now that I’m in my 30s, I’m trying very hard to view my job as just a job. I mean, it is. My job is to help my company make more money. And, if I do this, even indirectly, I likely can keep my job. We’re not curing cancer. So I try–incredibly, ridiculously hard–to care, but not care like that. Continue reading

How To: Career Change in Mid 30s

It has become increasingly clear that I cannot successfully remain in this career for the next 25+ years of my life. My immediate goal is to stay in my position for four years and hit my next major net worth objective of $1,000,000. I know the number is an arbitrary amount to define as some level of financial stability, but I feel like something will click when I have that amount in my investments, and I’ll no longer be afraid to try something new.

My husband is going back to school to change careers, why can’t I? I do feel rather old, and, you know, pregnant. I can’t go back to school immediately – at least, not when he’s doing it and I’m home with a newborn. But I’m interested in pursuing this longer term… maybe, in four years, when I can save up enough to quit my job or continue part time while studying for a new life. Continue reading

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A Real Career to Support My Family

The new job is great. My boss respects me. My compensation structure makes sense (lower base than last job, but substantial room for bonus and stock appreciation.) The team works together well and everyone plays their part. Why, then, am I still so concerned about the future?

It’s not this job. It’s still this career. Being in a larger company is helping… but I’m still extremely stressed everyday, feeling like I don’t know what I’m doing. I know I need to hang on for four years in this job, to build that stability profile, to capture the value of the stock, to really add value to my company’s business. My objective is to be a wonderful employee. I don’t plan to ever ask for a raise, or anything more than what I have now. I just want to survive and be known as an asset to the business. Continue reading

My downsized goals: chasing the miniature American Dream

The baby (singular or plural) may – or may not – happen. But, I’m turning 34 NEXT FUCKING WEEK and I feel like I need to have some new goals in my life. Some new goals that involve not living like a just-graduated-from-college person for the rest of my life.

I was absolutely fine living my 20s in shared living situations to save money, and my early 30s were completely acceptable sharing a 1 bedroom apartment with my husband. But – as I’ve taken home $160k+ per year, minus taxes, for the last 3 years – I wonder what on earth am I doing this for if I can’t have some semblance of the adult life I want.

All the east coast dreams of the grande house with the huge backyard are gone. I’ve downsized my objectives – but I still have them. I’d like to own a house on not-the-crappiest street. I’d like to be able to take time off in the future (in health or in sickness) and not worrying about running out of money. I’ve made progress, but I still have a long way to go.

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The plan (with flat stocks):

2017 – close the year with ~$525k networth
2018 – savings = $45k investments + $30k after-tax bonus = $600k
2019 – savings = $45k investments + $40k after-tax bonus = $685k
2020 – savings = $45k investments + $40k after-tax bonus = $770k
2021 – savings = $45k investments + $40k after-tax bonus = $885k

OR

The plan (with ~5% growth):

2017 – close the year with ~$525k networth
2018 – savings = $45k investments + $30k after-tax bonus = $625k
2019 – savings = $45k investments + $40k after-tax bonus = $740k
2020 – savings = $45k investments + $40k after-tax bonus = $862k
2021 – savings = $45k investments + $40k after-tax bonus = $990k

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This all assumes I can perform well in my current job for the next four years, age 34-38, and not take significant time off, all while (hopefully) having two children.

My goal has always been to have $500k in the bank before having children. I have obtained that goal. My next goal is to have $1M in the bank before 40. Ideally well before 40. I’d like $1M in the back as my emergency fund and retirement fund and the fund which I do not touch. Over this same time, my husband will be doing what he does and not investing his money because he’s very risk averse. This is fine, because he will be saving up for the down payment on our (not in this part of the country) house.

Assuming I have one child in 2018/19 (age 34-35); and one in 2020/21 (36-37); by the time I have achieved this plan, I have one child who is ~3 and one who is ~1. This will enable us to, before we have to think about putting the kids into school, move to a part of the country where housing is more affordable. My husband can continue his career as a teacher in a region it is more cost effective, and I can perhaps pursue an entirely new career – or take time to spend at home with the kids.

I realize $1M is NOT “early retirement.” This is step two in my… however many step, not very well thought out plan…

Step 1: $500k before having children (age 30-35)
Step 2: $1M before 40 / + $200k cash downpayment (husband)
Step 3: $2M before 50 / + home 33% paid off (or more)
Step 4: $3M before 60 / + home 66% paid off
Step 5: $4M before 70 / + home 100% paid off / retirement

I’m not sure if any of that makes sense. So far steps 1 was achieved (woohoo) and step 2 seems like it might be achievable, if I can hold on to this job for the full four years. I am going to hold on to it with all my might. The having kids things definitely may throw a wrench in this plan regardless, but I’m hopeful I can take minimal time off for my kids when they’re really young (and/or work remote and still do my job, which might be possible)… then, after four years, we leave. We have to leave. We will never be able to afford a house here. I don’t know why that’s so important to me – I realize homeownership is a horrible financial decision – but it is. I can’t shake it. I want to design my own bathroom and kitchen… I’d like a backyard I can sit in and enjoy the sun without feeling the prying eyes of others all over me. I want a place for my children to grow up and a home to know.

So, that’s the plan. It suddenly seems all so very short term. I feel quite old. 34 is no joke. 34 is just a few years away from 40. And 40 is no longer fake adulthood. It’s serious, full-on, you’re an adult – and you’re only going to get MORE adult until you’re PAST that… and, I’m trying not to freak out about that, because I know life is so very short, and I need to just enjoy the moments and try to achieve some semblance of both freedom and control before I’m too old to enjoy it.

 

Quick Update: Personal Finance this Fall

Wow, it’s been too long since I’ve updated this blog. I’ve been heads down focused on finding a new job and figuring out my life, all while trying not too dip too much into my savings. Fortunately, it seems all as worked out, for now.

My net worth this month hit $509k, which feels really good given my goal for the year was $500k and I haven’t had a job since June (though that doesn’t feel good.) I’m finally getting caught up on all of my money issues (hired an accountant to do our 2016 taxes so those will be turned in on time…) and mostly have old medical bills reimbursed properly after my COBRA election turned into a bit of an administrative nightmare.

This is all really good because I’m starting a new job NEXT WEEK! That’s right, I finally have a new job. I am really trying to be optimistic about this opportunity because, while it isn’t the most exciting job I’ve had, it’s one I think I might actually be able to succeed in. Without going into too many details, it’s a role still in tech, but it’s in a larger company where I’ll get to focus on what I’m good at (writing, mostly) instead of trying to do way too much and running an entire department in a smaller company. I had a few offers for the “run it all” in a small company but I turned them down because I know that’s a recipe for disaster.

While this role was a considerable pay cut in base salary from my last few positions, it more than makes up for that in potential bonus and stock. I’m pretty stoked about the RSUs, since I’ve never had them and they actually are worth something if you stay at the company for a year – versus stock options where you have the privilege of buying them for “lower than their worth” (even though you can’t sell them and they’re really worth $0) and then paying taxes on what they’re supposedly worth based on a whole lot of lies (I’m not bitter. Am I bitter? Ok, I’m bitter.) Meanwhile, RSUs are basically a promise that you’ll be given a certain number of shares if you keep your job each year, and you can immediately sell those shares for cash. Yes, the taxes on RSUs are high, but they’re worth something – and if the company performs well they can be worth a lot. I’m very fortunate that the company I’m joining has a lot of room to grow, and seems to be in a really great spot, so all signs are pointing towards this being the right move.

As I’ve been out of work for four months, I’m REALLY ready to get back into the swing of things. The forced sabbatical has been nice, but it’s time to have a day job again. Consulting didn’t work out this time around — my one client couldn’t raise money and only gave me a small project, and I’m not great at drumming up business. Maybe one day in the future I’ll have a good enough reputation to land me projects with the full time security, but for now — my main focus is figuring out how to and if I can have kids, which means I need good health insurance, a stable income, and a role that doesn’t require me to be on a plane every week. And that’s what I’ve got. Woohoo. More on all of this later… but I wanted to check in since I haven’t written anything since August!

Why there aren’t more women in tech? Why the Google Manifesto matters.

While the day-to-day subtle and less-than-subtle sexism in the tech industry is something that usually doesn’t get national press, this month a Google employee’s manifesto — “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber” —  about the supposed biological differences between men and women — had everyone talking about Silicon Valley and gender bias. Even Fox News got in on the action, will all the hubbub making manifesto author James Damore an insta-star of conservatives everywhere.

If you’ve been living under a rock, or think that companies don’t care about corporate liability after an employee writes a literal manifesto about why men are better than woman at certain things, you may not know that (or understand why) Damore was fired from Google. He was. And he isn’t going down without a fight… Continue reading

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Still unemployed… Still not sure WTF to do with my life.

The further away from my last day of work I get, the easier it is to romanticize the role in it’s high-paid, occasional feeling of mass victory glory. But then I remember just how miserable the job – the career – made me, and I’m desperate not to go back to it, despite the lure of a substantial amount of recruiters knocking on my doorstep, basically asking me to let history repeat itself yet again.

As I take this pause in my career to dissect what I like and dislike about my prior roles, I know that I find it very difficult to put 100% daily into a job where the majority of my waking hours are dedicated to trying to get people to buy software for their businesses that helps those businesses run more efficiently. I enjoy this in spurts — I do believe in efficiency and find it rewarding to help people stuck in old ways break free of traditional processes and technologies and move to better ways of doing things, especially if these better ways impact lots of people. It’s just at the end of the day (or even about 2 minutes after I wake up) I feel this heaviness of dread — knowing that there is so much more to be done to make the world better than improving business processes. Continue reading