My own real life version of “Would You Rather…”

A couple of weeks ago I went to an Open House with my mom and sister.  The Open House was at an adorable house for sale in West Monroe that is actually not outrageously expensive.  I still don’t have the downpayment saved that I’d like to have before buying a house, so I’d never just call up a realtor and ask to see a house.  But this was an Open House.  The realtor would be there regardless.  I wouldn’t be inconveniencing anyone.  Plus, it’s just fun to look at houses.  So we went.  

I fell in love with the house.  It’s precious.  It has so much charm.  It’s an older home with lots of windows, wood floors, spacious rooms, and just the perfect amount of space for a single gal like me.  I was seriously considering making an offer on it.  I wanted a realistic idea of whether or not I could afford it, so I sat down with a pen and paper and wrote out my own little budget with a complete list of expenses.  

I realized that if I stay at the job I have now, I could afford it and still save some money.  A little.  Not a lot.  It would be very difficult for me to take a lesser paying job and afford that house.  I would be the very definition of house poor.  Could I do it?  Yes.  Well, maybe.  It depends on how much of a pay cut I’d have to take.  I think I’d feel like I needed to keep my current job or find one that paid the same or more if I were to buy that house.  And the sad fact is that I don’t know of anywhere I could get a job and make what I’m making now; almost certainly I wouldn’t make more.  Would I want to lock myself in to a house – adorable as it may be – at the expense of having to keep my current job?  I’m not convinced.

So I had to seriously consider which would be more important to me – money and a super-cute-house or a job that I’d enjoy more that may open the doors for better (for me) opportunities down the road.  It wasn’t a difficult decision.  I’d take less money to find a job better suited for me.  Absolutely, I’d choose that option.

My job is a good job.  I have great coworkers.  Our work is purposeful.  But as I’ve said before, it is not what I feel I was put on this earth to do.  I’m still not sure what is.  I just know this is not it.  If I had any desire to “climb the ladder” within the agency, it would be one thing.  But I don’t.  I don’t want to be a supervisor or anything higher than I currently am within the agency.  As long as I am there, I will be a caseworker.  This is the very definition of a dead end job as it pertains to me.  And I just passed the five year mark where my pay has not increased by a cent.  (Don’t panic, anyone.  I don’t feel fearful in putting this out there for all of my ten to twelve readers to see, because I am a hard worker and my employer knows this.  As long as I’m there, I will continue to be a hard worker.  I just have hopes of not being there forever.  And I am positive I am not the only one who feels this way.)

There have been times that I’ve not applied for a job, because it would be a pay cut.  As much as I don’t want to stay where I am, I would not apply for a job because of a pay cut.  I’m thankful for the moment of clarity I had when I put down all those expenses on paper.  I finally have truly realized my priorities when it comes to my career.

So, here we go.  I’m opening myself up to the possibility of a lesser paying job.  The search has begun.  The job openings and opportunities in this area are few and far between, but at least now I’m not going to allow myself to be trapped by my current salary.  Because, truly, even though it’s not a lot of money, it is a trap.  It has been for me.  Money is not everything.  Money is not the most important thing.  

Hopefully in a few years from now, I can look back with a strange sense of gratitude on this five year period without a raise.  Maybe it took the five year mark and an adorable house I’m deciding to pass on to snap me out of my complacency.  I am currently 8 1/2 years into my employment at my job.  If I reach the ten year mark, it may be because of the economy but I vow it will not be because I’ve not made an effort.  If I reach the fifteen year mark, you have my permission to smack me across the head.



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