After talking about why we work a couple of weeks ago, I’m going to talk about why I’m not in my career for the money.
I absolutely love saving money. There have been points in my life where saving money was the only interesting thing going on. Putting money into savings or investments or paying down the mortgage and watching my net worth go up has always been really exciting to me. But, I have always put money aside for the future pretty much no matter how much money I made. I’ve always made savings a priority.
Back in high school when I decided I wanted to major in an engineering field, I didn’t have any idea that it was a well-paying career. It was just really interesting to me. I love the “brain work” and the logical/math part of it. I’ve worked in food and retail and both were pretty boring compared to the engineering jobs I’ve had over the years. When I go on vacation and don’t do much “brain work”, I get so bored. I need to have a way to keep my brain active pretty much all the time. No matter what sport I’m playing, I’m always analyzing it. You can’t shut my brain off while playing sports.
When I got my signing bonus for my first job, I never at any point considered spending it; I only ever considered putting it into savings. When I started getting regular bonuses, again, those immediately went to savings without much thought. When I got a pay raise, the money of course went to savings. (And then was eventually eaten up by increased housing expenses, but that should be less of a problem going forward.)
There are, of course, times that I hate my job, but for the most part, I absolutely love the content of what I do. I think that I would be happier if I worked in a less corporate environment (a smaller company) or I could be happy doing projects completely on my own terms (I definitely have in the past). What I do really comes down to throwing technology at life’s problems and making things easier for people. I absolutely love this way of solving problems with code, of thinking through how we do things manually and how we can solve that with software. I don’t always love working with people or working more than 40 hours a week (it’s way too mentally exhausting), but I do mostly always love writing code.
When The Finance Buff linked to my post about why we work, his simple test was:
If the employer cuts your pay in half, do you still show up?
My answer is yes, I would still show up for half my pay. Hopefully I would have the mortgage paid off if that happened and I would never consider working more than 40 hours a week doing this for any less than I’m paid right now. Sure, my RSUs are a nice extra, but even if they disappeared, I would still do okay. One of my life plan ideas actually involves moving to a city with lower pay in another ten years or so. I would estimate that that would be a 50% pay cut, but being able to sell my condo here and use the proceeds to buy something in cash there, plus having a large sum invested would make a huge difference. Then again, maybe at that point, I can just quit completely and live off of my investments.
Then again, I feel like I’m severely overpaid for my level of experience. I’m happily taking the money that they’re giving me and banking it, but I definitely wonder some days why I’m worth so much to my employer.