Want to have more work-life balance in your life? Today we’ll explore how the principles of FI can help you make the transition to part-time work!
Finding Work-Life Balance as Parents
Work- life balance can be a struggle for parents, especially if your kids are young.
You wand to have this time with them, but you also have to take care of the essentials like bills. Or maybe you have a job you really enjoy, but it’s very demanding of your time. You want some flexibility so you can work, but still be there with your little ones.
What if you want to work, but just not the traditional full-time?
Our culture and the way office work is structure makes that difficult. Family first employers can be hard to find. It’s an all or nothing approach.
Part-time work is regulated to lower paying work, which may not be viable for families.
It’s almost easier to just have one stay home while the other works full-time.
If you want something different, in most cases, you have to carve out your own path.
We had to do that and so have other families.
Which is why I’m thrilled to have Marriage, Kids, and Money creator and my buddy Andy Hill on the show. Andy and his wife Nicole have carved out that path of family and work that’s flexible and allows them to work part-time and hang out with their kids.
In this episode we get into:
- conversations you two need to have create a plan you’re both happy with
- how to use principles from FI to build flexibility so you can switch to part-time work
- key financial milestones to help prepare you for the transition
Hope you enjoy!
Resources to Pivot Your Career
If you’re ready to jump into the year and knock out some of your health and wealth goals, here are a few of my favorite resources and includes what we covered in the podcast.
- Best Budget and Money Apps: Empower, Tiller, Mint
- Grab Your Copy: Jumpstart Your Marriage and Your Money
- Marriage, Kids, and Money: Andy’s fantastic podcast and site dedicated to building family wealth and happiness.
- Part-Time Work at 40 (Our Mortgage Free, Worry Free Plan)
- Living On One Income: How Families Can Make the Switch
- Send In Your Family and Finance Questions for the Listener Mailbag episodes HERE!
We’re families looking to support and help one another out.
Hope to see you there!
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Switching to Part Time Work with Andy Hill
Elle Martinez: I think this is a great conversation to have, especially going into 2023. A lot of families are trying to reset things. We've had a crazy, to say the least go last couple years.
We've had to prioritize just making sure that everything is flowing but I think we're all to kind of taking a step back and hoping, Hey, can I get back on track? Can I reset and pivot?
And I saw this post episode, and I instantly thought, okay, I have to have Andy on, which was talking about part-time work and still having that time with the family. I think this is a conversation a lot of families want to have, but they're not sure how to go about it, right?
Because full-time work that's understandable. Working from home parents, remote work. Got that, but how do you transition to part-time work?
I know for me, being someone who works part-time as a career. I enjoy having the extra time, but let's be real. It, you can't just snap your finger and have it happen. So Absolutely. I'd love to dig into this.
First of all, who came up with this idea? Was this always a part of your financial journey or was this something that as you were paying off the debt, and I know you knocked out that mortgage, you said, okay, let's explore this?
Andy Hill: Yeah, I think for the longest period of time it was just, I was just a full-time employee and I just thought that's what you do. You just have a job and it takes up the majority of your day and your week, and you spend more time with the people at the office than you do with your, actually your actual family or your friends or your loved ones. And that's just what it is.
Then when you started to do some of these wild things like, you know, pay off all of our consumer debt or student loans, our car loan, and then eventually pay off the house and you realize that you're growing the gap between your income and your expenses quite a bit.
What if you just didn't need as much income then because the gap could be closed? So that's something sort of flipped in our heads being like, okay, well if we've got the retirement stuff set by saving and investing through those employer plans for so long, and Roth IRAs and HSAs and things like that. And then we paid off all the debt , what do we need to make a bunch of our money for?
If we've got our retirement set and we definitely need to make money because we gotta pay for our bills, we gotta pay for the food, we gotta pay for the bills. You know, gotta pay for the, this crazy inflation that keeps going up but we don't have to hustle hard forever.
I think there was a few epiphany moments. I think the pandemic was definitely one of them. I finished my full-time career and then I jumped into a life of entrepreneurship and I'm like, I'm gonna take this to the moon as well. You know, like, Hey, I'm gonna make a million dollars.
And then the pandemic happened and it was like, well, why ? Why continue to push, push, push, push, push what's it four? And I think that that great pause that we all got with the pandemic was, was nice. It was sort of a reset to say, ‘What do we want the next 20 years of our lives to look like?'
And you know, God willing, we have 20 years to move forward. Are we utilizing the time we have right now to the best of our ability? So I think that's when part-time work got interesting.
Another reason I think that part-time work not only got interesting but realistic was I really kind of fell for this fire movement thing for a while of like, I wanna push so hard that I don't have to work ever, you know, and it sounds really romantic and cool and, but man, I would say that is difficult for 99% of our world, our country, and our world.
I think the reality of, I like the idea of financial independence and, being able to have more time, but I think if you're able to do some work that you enjoy and have that time freedom. I think that's the best of both worlds, and that's what we're pursuing as a family right now.
I currently have the opportunity to work part-time and my wife went back to school to become an esthetician. So she's seeking out part-time employment right now.
Elle Martinez: That's awesome and I love that. We're like you, we're a CoastFI family and we've had similar conversations and I think it's important to bring that up.
Of course, at the beginning when you're in your financial journey we had the credit card debt. I know when we started off I had to pay off the debt before the wedding, and then we had the car loan student loans. And so there is, and I get this, there's an intensity, right?
Your focus, you're trying to knock that out, but with your financial journey doesn't have to be off on switch, especially with financial independence.
I know it is a very popular topic. Like we retired in X amount of years, we're free. But I think the, like you said, more realistic, but I think also the more flexible and enjoyable path is after you do knock out a lot of that unnecessary debt and you're evaluating, you know, having these conversations along the way, finding, are there more options a and B that I've always heard about or been given and are there ways to explore that?
I think sometimes we get on that path and it almost becomes the extreme, like, before we weren't paying attention to our money, we got into debt, and now we're paying too much attention to the money and the number and chasing it.
And it's like, wait, wait, wait. And you have two kids like I do too. Yes. At at, at some point. It's like, I wanna enjoy the time I have with my kids. They grew up way too fast. So yeah, having that ability to maybe slow down worth work is incredible. And you laid out in that episode the steps and the process that you take.
I definitely recommend, if you haven't already, I'll put it in the show notes. Check out Andy's post an episode. But I wanted to talk about two key steps.
The first one, and you mentioned a bit about this, is growing that gap. I think a lot of families struggle with that. Like, where do I start? How do I one earn more? How do I pay down my expenses. How did you guys first approach it and maybe tell me which one was harder, earning more, or optimizing those expenses.
Andy Hill: Yeah, absolutely. I think at the beginning of our marriage we got together and we were living for today, having a great time, enjoying all that our late twenties had to offer, and having a great time.
We had no gap, you know, so we had $130,000 coming in. I think I was making 60, she was making 70, something like that.
And we were using all of it for fun, which is great. I mean, it was just us and we were enjoying ourselves and we were newlyweds. When we learned we were gonna be parents, that's when something said, okay, we gotta pay attention to things a little bit more because we've got a human coming into the world and we want her to have a great life. So that's when sort of conversations happen around growing that gap, not just everything that's coming in is now going out.
What can we do to save a little bit for our daughters? 5 29. Okay, that gap's gotta be a little bit bigger. What can we do to eliminate our student debt and my car debt?
Okay, the gap's gotta be a little bit bigger for that too. And then save and invest for our retirement so that we don't always have to work or what if we're not able to work or if we get laid off in, in our fifties or sixties.
Those conversations started to happen a little bit more. So we needed to grow the gap. I guess first things first is have a need, have a why, have a have a reason to actually want to grow the gap. But growing that gap between your income and expenses creates a. Power. It creates your ability to do things that you never thought were possible, right?
‘Oh, wow. Didn't think we'd be able to buy that house, but we grew the gap so we have enough saved for it. ‘Or, ‘Hey, I never thought we'd become millionaires by the time we're 40.'
Well, that's because we grew the gap and we're able to invest and, and get things that we needed to get done. So I guess the hardest part, to answer your second question of that, is probably the increasing income part.
I would say based on my nature, I sort of have a…. I don't know, frugal side of me. So it's like, hey, if I need to not go out to dinner as much or cut back on grocery spending or negotiate some bills or whatever. Mm-hmm. , that's kind of like a hunt for me, I think. And so that becomes a little easier for me.
Or sell some stuff around the house on, you know, Craigslist or Facebook marketplace and you know, get a quick thousand bucks. Just like easy things like that, you know? So lowering the expense is a little easier for me. But yeah, the harder part is, is going and earning more, but it's probably the more important and, and more effective part which is tough.
If you're looking to increase the income, the quickest place to start, instead of saying, Hey, I wanna start a whole business and do all these different things, it's like, where are you currently earning money and could you get more money? Like do you have a job where you maybe haven't gotten a raise in a while or do you have the opportunity for overtime at this place?
Or can you get a bonus? Can you get commission? Do you have a client you've been working with for a while that you can say, Hey, I'm interested in raising my rates cuz we've been working together for a while and I believe you enjoy this situation. So those are difficult conversations. Mm-hmm. , but Woo man are they effective when you're looking to grow the gap!
Elle Martinez: Yeah, absolutely. We're working from home, so people like, oh yeah, you would obviously, put that as first piece of advice, but I absolutely agree with you. If you have a nine to five, first of all, it can be either a tool to help you reach your goals faster, build new skills and everything. But yeah, negotiating, seeing if you can get some flexibility. Talk with your manager. Start building up a portfolio. This is something that you have, especially when you're a parent.
It's like, do I have the time and energy, depending on how old your kids are and where you're at professionally, to actually grow something from, the bottom up. I think that's a good piece of advice.
I also love how you talked finding that balance and you found it to be a game to cut on expenses, but I'm curious, one of the benefits I would say with financial independence and freedom is it kind of forces you to prioritize, right?
You're gonna be cutting certain things, but then on the other side, you are going to be defining. , I'm going to keep this expense. I might, minimize it for now because I gotta pay down debt, but these are my must haves.
For you guys, what were those? What was that line for you and Nicole where you said, no, no, we need to put aside some money for
Andy Hill: this?
Yeah, I think there were some difficult moments when we were. You know, working our way up this debt free ladder, mortgage free ladder, Coast Fire Ladder, where I got pretty excited about it cuz I'm a numbers guy and I get really geeked about it and she, she gets equally interested, but as long as I talk about the emotional benefits or the payoff, like why mm-hmm.
why are we doing these things with all the numbers? Like what's the purpose of it? So there was some points in time where we'd be looking at the numbers and I'd be like, well, you know what this cleaning lady. I you know, you're a stay-at-home mom right now and we got this cleaning lady. It just seems like an unnecessary expense to me.
Ooh, that did not go well, Elle. And you know what I didn't do? I didn't really empathize with her situation. She's got two kids. at home that she's taken care of. Maybe, I think there were probably four and two at the time. Like really? I mean, beautiful, beautiful kids. Yeah. But difficult lot of work. Kids are kids. So a treat of somebody coming over and doing a deep clean your house once a month, it's not really that lavish.
And so when I poked at that little piece of an expense that became a very touchy subject for for her, and I'm quickly realized, wow, that's something that's very important to her.
And. . It hasn't come up yet. It hasn't come up again, . But I guess my point is, is that there are things that I really would feel super passionate about if she brought up and said, Hey, you know, that's not that important. Mm-hmm. to me either. And I would defend them. , but I think the point of the conversation is that we need to step in the shoes of our partners, Uhhuh , to say if it's important to them, then it's important to me.
And obviously there are lines you gotta draw as a couple, as you have these conversations. But I would try to go at it with an empathetic heart to say. , it might not be. It might be something that I think is completely silly, but really, you know what? That's not, that's doesn't matter. She thinks it's great or he thinks it's great, and so it's great for me.
So I think, I think having those conversations and a budget and some conversations around sitting down to look at a budget could open up those conversations in a friendly way as opposed to doing it in passing, which I've done many times and it does not go well for our relationship.
If you could dedicate time to specifically talk about these important things about growing the Gap, saying, okay, where are some areas that we could maybe work on so that we could eventually get to a part-time lifestyle, maybe in five, 10 years from now those can happen with some scheduled, specific time.
Where the kids are maybe not hanging on your legs to speak to that. Do you have that problem
Elle Martinez: too, ? Oh, you know it, sister.
Yeah. I mean, and, and that's the thing with family. It's all. Balance and I feel, well, I like that word balance. And at the same time, I think the reality is like we have seasons and cycles when you, you have kids and you're working, but I love that you're saying set aside time for conversations.
Cuz I'm a big believer in that, you know, I love the money date. I know you do budget parties, but kind of taking the tension out.
For me it was making sure it is regular enough. Mm-hmm. that we're having these conversations that it doesn't feel like it's the money talk.
I feel like if you only save it for special occasions, that's when you get a little more stressed out. You feel like you mentioned defending yourself with these expenses, but saying, Hey, you know, this month went well. I was looking ahead. Did you? This expense is coming up, or maybe we can cut back. Having that space, like I love how you guys are open about it saying what you you wanna say, and then yes, sometimes there's gonna be a little pushback on either side and understanding, okay, well maybe we need to go back to the drawing board and find a compromise we're both happy with, or we just keep it as is, but you won't know until you have those conversations.
Kind of breaks me to the next part. So conversations are great. You're making progress, you're getting ready to transition. I feel like this is a different, like another pivot point. Mm-hmm. , how did that conversation go with you and Nicole? Did you do like one at a time or how did you decide to make that, because I know like every family kind of calculates it differently.
Andy Hill: Yeah. We've had varying times in our relationship mm-hmm. when we've gone both full-time workers mm-hmm to ladder down to a single worker and then back up to, to full-time. And then now we're in this position of could we both be two half-time workers? You know?
I think that's how it, it's how it started for us. So we were both working full-time and then we got to a position of financial strength where I was making some good money at my job and we had paid down all of our debt.
It was the point in time when we had our first child. We figured, hey, Nicole could have the ability to work part-time. So that was, that was sort of our step into it.
That was much better than saying both of us are fully retired, or one of us is fully retired or not working anymore. It's a step down and it's a lot easier to get used to, just like all these financial steps that we do. It's easier when it's in small incremental steps as opposed to being like, let's do it all right now cuz it's very stressful.
We went from two full-time workers down to one full-time worker and a part-time worker with Nicole, and then eventually full-time stay-at-home mom. So she did that for about five or six years. So we had one full-time worker. And with that, I'll be honest with you, and I've been honest with her about it too, it was stressful.
It was stressful to own 100% of the financial responsibility. And I did it, you know, I'm like, you know, prideful, I'm working hard. Yeah, I'm gonna grow my income. And but after a few, four, five years, I'm like, And I kind of bottled that up a little bit and I didn't really share it with her how I should have.
And sometimes I would explode, you know, and it would be no good. It would be one of those things where I'm like, well, you should know, but I didn't share anything with her . So that's when things like marriage counseling would, would really help us out because. Our counselor would help us to say, well, Andy, all those things that you're thinking that you conveyed to her, you didn't.
So let's have that forum to be able to have that conversation. So we found that, yeah, 100% of the ownership, the financial responsibility is tough, even if you're making good money.
Honestly, on her end, 100% of the, of the, of the parenting or the, the stay-at-home mom duties is also very stressful.
We found a little balance after that act where I went down to leaving my corporate full-time job and being a part-time stay-at-home dad at a part-time business owner and Now we are both in that train. She's decided to go back to school and learn a new trade because after finishing the stay at home mom thing, she went back to advertising and it was like, this is not for me either.
So now she's gone back to school to learn to be an esthetician, which is somebody does like facials and things like that, and she loves it. Yeah. So now she's seeking out part-time employment.
So that'll be two part-time workers, which will make one full-time worker together, which is great because it's like, okay, we are one collective here as a family.
So we've gone essentially from two full-time workers down to now one full-time worker over the 12 years of our marriage because we've done these things to grow the gap and have some, yeah, financial strength. We're not saving as much as we used to at all, but because we're not saving as much as we used to, we now have the ability to own more of our time.
Elle Martinez: Yeah, absolutely. I love this because you, you're kind of carving out your own. You're finding, this is where I'm happy. This is the kind of mix as you could say, with, professional paid work, taking care of the kids, spending time with them.
She's going back to school and I love that she went back to work, realized it's not for her.
Yeah. And then she said, okay, let me find a different path. And you guys were able to work as a family and create a plan. And I think that's flexibility is what a lot of families are looking for. And while financial independence, a lot of stores might be shared about, oh, we retired in, you know, 10 years, or we did this crazy side hustle and made six figures.
I think the bigger takeaway are the stories where families are creating meaningful and memorable, lives for themselves, however that looks for them.
Maybe you do wanna travel in an RV with your kids, or maybe you just wanna stay put and be next to your family, right? And have that network.
There's so many different flavors to fry and I sometimes taking the word independence and just put freedom, just having some more freedom, whether that's money, but more importantly, in the end time, To spend with whoever or whatever you wanted do.
Andy Hill: Yeah, that's a great point. And I think the funny thing, and I think I'm part of the problem too is it's hard to quantify what we're describing right now. So it's difficult to share and draw people in because I think as humans, we really like to see something that you can measure at least I do. You know, where it's like, Paid off that much or saved that much by X age.
It's something that we could quantify. You know, quantifying time ownership and quality time with family and quantifying happiness. That's a lot harder to do because it's personal and there's not a lot of numbers associated with it.
So I think the conversation we're having right now is a little bit more difficult to quantify. And therefore people are like, well, if it's not a $5 million net worth, what are you doing? What, why are you even, why are you working part-time? You could make, make making more money. It's like, hmm. It's hard to quantify .
Elle Martinez: Yeah, exactly. Oh my goodness. I know we just scratch the surface, Andy and I would love to chat with you some more but for those that are listening if you haven't already subscribed to Andy's Podcast, marriage, kids and Money, it is a holistic approach. It's not just, retiring and becoming financially independent.
It's enjoying the journey as well.
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