Thursday, January 13, 2011

Could You Live on Half Your Salary?

At a dinner party last night (where I served my Italian grandma's famous lasagna...mmm) the topic of part time work came up. A friend of ours who has a new baby has shifted to working only two days a week. She is part of a two-income household, which makes it easier to accomplish such a thing, but it got me to fantasizing about a world in which I only had to work two days a week.

I started wondering if there were a position with my company that would allow me to work two days a week, for 10 hours a day. I could start my day at 7:00 am, take a brief 15 or 30 minute lunch, and be outta here by 5:30. By working a 20 hour work week, I would still be eligible for benefits.

But could I swing it financially? Right now my biggest expense is the mortgage on my condo. I'm not emotionally attached to the place, so I wouldn't mind renting it out. If I rented it out as a furnished unit, I could easily cover the mortgage, and make a little extra cash as well. Plus I would get all the nice tax deductions that rental property affords. But then where would I live? Craig's List in Seattle is crammed full of rooms-for-rent ads. I found this ad for a $600 room for rent in a beautiful house in a great neighborhood. Not too shabby. I could manage that. So that takes care of housing.

What about my day-to-day expenses? I currently save about 20% of my take-home pay. I did a little math and found that if I save the same percentage of my new (lower) salary, and reduced my monthly discretional spending from $1,500 (my current average) to $1,000 each month, then I would be still be cash flow positive each month. The biggest chunk of that $1,500 is spent on food, which with a little effort, could easily be reduced.

Of course my annual savings dollar amount would drop in half, but I have been a compulsive saver every since I started my career at age 21. And now, at age 37, my retirement savings are in good shape and I have a healthy emergency fund. I think I could swing this.

It's a fun exercise to consider. It is similar to the game you play, "what if you won the lottery." But the game of "could you live on half your salary" is actually an attainable objective. I think of all the wonderful things I could do with a 5-day weekend. How nice it would be...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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