Expert Perspectives: Are Your Finances Foiling Your Job Flexibility?

A guest post by Pat Katepoo

While I spend some time with Nick, my friend, Pat Katepoo takes over today with a GREAT guest post.  I'll be back on Thursday.
While I spend some time with Nick, my friend, Pat Katepoo takes over today with a GREAT guest post. I’ll be back on Thursday.

Last week, I heard from a state government employee who told me his current job provides him with “much flexibility and work life balance.”

Josiah (name/details changed to preserve anonymity) said he works an average of 35 hours a week, plus he can flex his hours as needed to meet family needs that come up. Oh, and he makes more than $125,000 a year.

All that’s the good news.

The bad news? Impending state-mandated furloughs along with 12% across-the-board pay cuts. It’s a salary slashing Josiah says he can’t absorb, forcing him to respond to an opening for another higher-paying job. A job where the culture is far from flexible.

Josiah came to me with his dilemma: “I’m devastated about the pay cut, but even more scared of the prospect of going to a new job where I no longer have the flexible schedule I currently have.”

You can sense by the words he uses how important job flexibility is to him, but the salary reduction is driving him away from a satisfying job within a flexible work culture. Can you see his options? Does he have any?

Josiah didn’t come to me for budgeting advice; his session focused on specific strategies for negotiating flexibility during his upcoming job interview, because that’s what he asked for.

Yet I wondered (silently) if there were lifestyle adjustments he’d be willing to make that would allow him to keep the flexible job he already had.

If his annual salary was $30,000, I wouldn’t give this much thought. But at $125,000+ a year, could there be places to trim expenses and make material trade-offs for time freedom? It’s something I’d be willing to explore with him if he wanted to go down that path.

It’s Not How Much You Earn…

But I know nothing about Josiah’s life circumstances and financial situation otherwise, and I’m not here to judge his choices. Rather, I want to make a point about the broader subject of income and spending: living within your means gives you wider work options. You may have heard it before: it’s not how much you earn; it’s how much you spend.

Yes, I realize that the “American way” promotes the opposite with excess consumption and a lifestyle of consumer debt. So forging a different path, i.e., spending less than you make, takes courage and discipline. But when life’s realities take an unexpected shift, you’ll have a financial cushion that gives you the flexibility for dealing with them.

  • Want a reduced workweek to help care for your grandchild or elderly parent?
  • Wishing for a reduced workday to pick up your kids after school or to attend MBA classes?
  • Need flextime to go to the gym or your health care appointments?
  • Want to job share so you can plan a short-term sabbatical and still have work coverage?

Whatever the reasons for wanting more control of your time, with prudent budget practices in place, you’ll have more liberty to make self-directed decisions about your work-life choices, instead of being forced into them.

Is This an Area of Struggle for You?

Who hasn’t been making financial adjustments and sacrifices since the Great Recession? It’s been a bumpy road for almost everyone.

Here are a few recommended resources to make money issues more manageable:

Being Minimalist – I like Joshua Becker’s “regular guy” story of how he and his young family learned to live with less stuff and enjoy life more.

Debt-Proof Living – long before a roster of top personal finance bloggers surfaced, Mary Hunt was teaching people how to conquer consumer debt.

Crown Financial Ministries – This long-standing organization has loads of practical resources for wise, biblically-based management of personal finances, career, business and even your marriage.

Don’t let finances foil your flexibility options. Build a budget—and a lifestyle—that fosters time freedom and choices.

This was a guest post by Pat Katepoo, negotiation coach and flex-work advisor who equips individuals to request job flexibility. See her website, WorkOptions, which contains information about her products, coaching and her blog on work flexibility.  

This post originally appeared on WorkOptions and is reposted here with permission by the author. I highly recommend her blog.   

Thanks, Pat.  So, what do you think about finances as they relate to work flexibility? Let’s discuss in the comments section.

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