Should I take a sabbatical

sabbatical

In college, I remember being jealous of the professors who had earned a sabbatical. They would take a whole semester off, with pay, to basically do whatever they wanted. It seemed like the sweetest gig in the world. Every ten years they worked, they could take a three-month sabbatical.

About a year ago, I asked my boss if sabbaticals were a “thing” in our field. He told me Heck No and laughed in my face. I was bummed to say the least.

But guess what guys! I had another meeting with my boss yesterday, and thanks to future baby Ninja, I can finally take a sabbatical. Okay, not a sabbatical, more like unpaid time off because of FMLA benefits. But hey, I’ll take what I can get. 

My boss explained things like this…

I can take off as much (or as little) time off as I want, up to 12 weeks, immediately after our baby is born. Do you realize what this means! I could take ALL SUMMER OFF!!!! How incredible would that be!? I’m sitting here thinking of all of the different ways I can take advantage of these FMLA benefits. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far.

Option A:

Take the whole summer off WITH pay. I think I have about 550 hours of sick leave banked currently (14 weeks). So if I wanted, I could take virtually the whole summer off, with pay, by exhausting my sick leave. Awesome to take three months off with pay. Not awesome being “sick leave poor”. What if baby has a serious medical complication down the road, or I break my leg six months from now? I’d be screwed if I needed to take more than three weeks off.

Option B:

Take the whole summer off, WITHOUT pay. I am not required to use any sick leave under the FMLA laws. So essentially, I can take up to 12 weeks off, without pay, and keep all 14 weeks of sick leave in tact. Super sweet to maintain a healthy sick leave balance. Not so sweet to forfeit $18,500 in gross pay over those three months.

Option C, D, E, F…

Combine sick leave and unpaid leave. Here’s where things get interesting. As long as I give my boss advance notice, meaning a written plan before baby comes, I can combine my paid time off with unpaid time off anyway I’d like. So for those first 12 weeks I could do something like….

  • Take two weeks off with pay, take two weeks off without pay, work two weeks, and repeat the cycle.
  • Or how about, take every Monday off as paid leave, every Friday off as unpaid, and work every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday.
  • Or Take a month off paid, take a month off unpaid, work a month.
  • Or… well you get the point.

Between June 18th and September 18th I can work as much, or as little, as I want. And I can take off as much time as I want, paid or unpaid. It’s a FANTASTIC situation to be in.

Only problem is, I’m not quite sure what to do!!!

I’m seriously dreaming about taking the family to San Diego for three months and eating 10 years worth of California Burritos. Or maybe volunteering to work at a Young Life camp all summer. Or maybe knock out some major projects around the house. Or have four-day weekends, every weekend, for three months.

Put yourself in our shoes. You have a decent chunk of change in the bank, 16 weeks of sick leave banked (about what I’ll have when the baby comes), and the ability to take 12 weeks off.

What would you do?! 

 

I’m working in my underwear right now, you’re not.

casual friday, underwear
I guess the title of this post is not completely accurate as we all work in our underwear, unless of course going commando is your thing 😉 But I am literally hanging out in my office with nothing but my boxer briefs on. Working from home is pretty sweet, and like anything has its pros and cons:

1) Working at home is great. I don’t have to fight traffic and I’m never late to the office. The downside to working at home… I don’t have coworkers. Now some might see this as a pro, but I am a people person and wish I had fun coworkers that I got to see everyday. It’s like going to school, even though I wasn’t excited about going to classes, I enjoyed getting to see my friends in class. Going on five years now of working from home and there are definitely days I wish I had someone to shoot the breeze with. Sometimes I talk to the pillow just to feel like I have a friend 😉

2) The coolest thing about my job is I can work 50% of the time in my Spongebob Squarepants underwear. The only bummer is that my position requires me to be out in the field the other 50% of the time doing special agent thingys. This means I have to wear a full suit. I much prefer basketball shorts and a tank top over a coat and tie 🙁

3) Making my own hours is quite possibly the greatest thing ever. It’s great for the whole work/life balance schtick. But there is definitely a drawback, since I work from home…. work is always at home. I don’t get to leave my ‘ish at the office and mentally check-out for the weekend. Work is around me at all times and I’m constantly thinking “Oh I need to get this done.”

It’s kind of like when I had a big test coming up in college, even if I wasn’t studying for it I couldn’t help but feel like I should be.

4) I can watch TV, microwave popcorn, play music, etc. When your office is your living room you can do pretty much anything you want. Like watch TV.  While I initially thought this would be super cool, I have come to realize the only thing on during the day is Judge Judy and some crappy soap operas. Not exactly my style. Now give me some 16 and pregnant and I’ll be a happy camper!

Okay I’m done. These are just a few things that I thought were cool and not so cool about my experiences working from home over the years. It should be noted that I am not self-employed and, therefore,  do not have as much freedom to “do what I want” as someone who works for themselves would.

Have you ever been able to work from home? Did you (or do you think you would) love it or hate it?

And most importantly, Boxers or briefs?

Reader Poll: What’s your income?

It’s Thursday so I’m coming at ya with a another reader poll. This time we will be focusing on gross annual income. A few things to note before we begin…

    1. Only account for your income, not combined or household income. This goes for stay at home parents too.
    2. You can account for side income that you make, bonuses, commissions, etc.
    3. This isn’t a contest. High income doesn’t mean you win at life. Teachers don’t make a ton, but they are definitely important.
    4. Don’t lie. It might be tempting to play pretend, but that defeats the whole purpose of the poll.
    5. Participate! Be an active contributor to my blog 😉

[poll id=”3″]

For extra credit points, Comment below with your income and job field so we have a better understanding of where you are coming from. You can comment “anonymously” if you prefer. 

p.s. If you are reading this via email you will have to click-through to see the poll and results. 

Time for a change.

It was a busy weekend for me. Most of my time was spent redesigning MANteresting. We threw up a new logo. Moved some stuff around. And ultimately brought the site up to web 2.0 standards.

After a couple of hours of coding in the MANteresting changes, I couldn’t help myself. I figured it was time to give this here blog a face-lift. The old “grungy” look was cool and all, but there was too much going on: crazy background graphics, too many icons, awkward spacing.

This new look, while some will probably call it boring, pretty much removes all of those concerns. Wanna know the thing I’m most excited about? My two unicorn compadres hanging out in the header. I’ll be frequently changing out the text in their speech bubbles, so keep your eyes peeled for some fun banter between the two 😉

I remember opening Photoshop for the first time and feeling overwhelmed with all the setting and panel options. I didn’t know where to begin. Or when I looked at CSS code for my first time and thought “What the crap does ‘box-shadow: 0 0 2px #d9d9d9;’ mean”?!

I was in over my head, but through a lot of trial-and-error, I’ve become relatively proficient.

I’ve always been concerned that my work as a Special Agent limits my marketability to new job opportunities. Most people in my job do this their entire lives, they have no need to broaden their horizons.

I’ve been casually exploring tech and medical sales positions over the last few weeks. I’ve also been rejected from every position I’ve applied to since this time. Haven’t even gotten a phone interview. Companies want someone who has sold X dollars of product, performed X number of deals in the last X months, and performs X% above the team average.

When you’ve never sold anything before, it’s kind of hard to convince someone to give you a sales job. If I was a recruiter, I wouldn’t look twice at my resume either.

The reality is my current position will never give me experience in sales. It also never gave me experience in graphic/website design. If I want to become competitive in the job market, it’s time I pick myself up by my bootstraps and start selling things. Who wants to buy some used toilet paper? 😉

Have you picked up any valuable skills in your free time? Musical instrument? Sewing/tailoring? Handyman (plumbing, mechanic, etc)?

You couldn’t have predicted that.

You know the old saying, “You don’t know where you’re going, unless you know where you’ve been”? I’ve concluded whoever came up with that phrase must have been drunk, or high, or drunk and high. If you look at my career progression, I don’t think anyone would have guessed I’d be where I am today. I sure as heck didn’t plan on being here.

Here’s a sequential rundown of my positions (from high school to present)…

  1. Assembled x-ray machine equipment in a factory
  2. Worked for my college campus’ student activities dept
  3. Kitchen cook at summer camp
  4. Director of student activities for college campus
  5. Ropes/outdoor activities guide at summer camp
  6. Jansport sticker-er (put price stickers on backpacks for 8 hours)
  7. Pac-sun retail
  8. Building manager for college campus building
  9. Background “extra” for various television shows
  10. Psychiatric technician
  11. Special Agent

Seeing that my first 10 positions are in no way related to my current job, I don’t think anyone would have predicted I’d be a Special Agent. Maybe the “You don’t know where you’re going….” phrase holds true for some people, but I’d be willing to bet the majority of us have pretty diverse career paths.

Let’s see how accurate this statement is, shall we? Take a second to drop a comment with your job progression. Reflecting on your career path would you say you could have predicted you’d be where you are today? I’ve had 11 jobs since high school, how many have you had?

p.s. It’s Girl Ninja’s Twenty-SEXY-Sixth birthday today. Love that girl to pieces…

Screen shot 2013-04-17 at Apr 17, 2013, 10.37.33 PM

Miserable March

For those of us that get paid every two weeks, we face a battle of epic proportions. Managing a budget is no easy task, especially when all months AREN’T created equal. Ten months a year we might bring home $4,000, but two months of the year we bring home $6,000. Why must such cruel things exist!?

Although an extra paycheck is definitely a good problem to have, there is no denying it adds a little hiccup to the budgeting process. Us “three paycheckers” really only have two options…

  1. We can mentally break up the two extra paychecks. Say for example you take home $2K every two weeks. Instead of budgeting your expenses around $4,000/month, you can pretend you make $4,333/month (since that is your average monthly income over the course of a year). In my opinion this method sucks. It takes a lot of work, discipline, and patience. It also causes you to spend money you don’t necessarily have yet. My first third paycheck month doesn’t come until March each year, so by this rule, I’d be spending money in January and February that I have not yet received. It would be like spending your tax return before you actually got it. Sure, you know it’s coming, but it’s best you wait for it to get deposited in to your bank account.
  2. I like to pretend the extra paycheck is a bonus. If you take home $2,000 every two weeks, I recommend you budget your expenses around a $4k per month income. When March and August roll around, you suddenly get an extra $2,000. Two thousand dollars that does not have a budgeted purpose. You can spend it on a vacation, a unicorn, or even be responsible and open a Roth IRA. Booyah for unicorns and responsibility!

If you haven’t noticed…it’s March, which means I’ll be getting an extra paycheck this month. Perhaps I will buy a few thousand McChickens from McDonalds, maybe I’ll give this extra paycheck to one of my lucky readers, but most likely I will be boring and throw it in the good ol’ savings account. Totally un-sexy… I know.

I know I’m not the only person that gets paid every two weeks. How do you manage? What works best for you!?

I’m trying to get Girl Ninja to quit her job!

Girl Ninja is in her second year of teaching private school. She loves it. The parents are more involved. The administration is uber-supportive. And she has 22 kids in her class instead of 30. There are really only two downsides to her teaching at a private school.

1. The benefits are worse. She only gets two personal days for the whole school year. She obviously gets a ton of time off in the summer and around Xmas break, but only having two vacation days to use from September to June is annoying. What’s more, her school breaks are always during the most expensive times to travel (Thanksgiving, Spring Break, Xmas).

2. She took a huge pay cut. A $12,000 pay cut to be exact. Fortunately we are in a position that we don’t need that extra money, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say it sure would be nice. Think of how many california burritos I could buy with that! The correct answer is 2,400 burritos!

Each year, around March, current teachers are given the option to renew their contract with the school. I begged her last year to quit. As expected, she completely ignored my advice and signed on for her second year.

authority

In about a month, her school will ask her if she wants to come back for a third year. This time I’m determined to get her to say “No thanks.”

I know what you all are thinking. You assume I want Girl Ninja to quit her private school job so she can go back to public school and make a boat-load more money. You’re wrong. I actually want GN to quit and become a substitute teacher… which pays even less than her private school gig.

We’re two and a half years in to this thing called marriage, and I suspect within the next 12 months GN is going to get baby fever. With the very real possibility of only being baby-free for another year or two, I want to take advantage of the time we have together, just the two of us.

My job has some pretty awesome perks. One of them is being able to travel all around the world. Only downside to this international travel is that it requires a minimum 6 week trip. We already lived apart for 4 months during our first year of marriage, and I spent another two months away from her last year. That’s too much long distance marriage-ing for my liking.

I usually have an opportunity to go abroad once each quarter. With the way things currently are, I can only volunteer for stuff in the summer since that is when she is off.

Come on Girl Ninja!!!!

I have to win the award for “Best Husband To Have Ever Existed, Ever” for begging my wife to quit her job so we can travel the world together, right?! Crazy thing is, she loves her job so much she isn’t sold on the idea. She’s considering going back for round three!!!!

Any of you ever loved your job so much you passed up some pretty sweet opportunities? How can I trick/bribe/convince her to quit?!

Oh, and I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you part of me wants her to quit so she will make the bed each morning. She leaves before me so I have to make it every day. I hate doing it. A lot. So if she was a stay-at-home-wife she would have no excuse not to make the bed. I mean, look at how many pillows I have to put on and take off the bed each day…

pillows on ground