Punch 2011 in the face

Girl Ninja and I have a plan to punch 2011 in the face as hard as we can. On January first of each year, I like to open up my annual budgeting spreadsheet and see what the Excel gods tell me. After some serious number crunching, and some even more serious random number guessing, we have something to work towards, and that my friends is a net worth of $96,000. Here’s the breakdown…

2010 was the year of the non-budget budget as I didn’t have a clue how to prepare for dual income. I knew our income could vary greatly depending on how many days Girl Ninja was able to substitute teach. Last year was crazy, and this year things are no different.

We are almost sure to face some significant financial changes over the next year. That’s right, we’re pregnant…no not with babies (sorry mom)…but with job opportunities. And as you can expect, with a change in job, a change in salary often follows. There are really three potential outcomes for us.

1) We stay in San Diego. This would be the easiest situation to budget for as it would mean nothing really changed for us.

2) We move to Seattle. We are both originally from Washington and would love to be near our parents and our friends from high school. If we moved up north I would likely either A) transfer in my current position to the Seattle office (same pay) or B) I would look for something more lucrative in the Seattle area. We would likely meet, or exceed, our $96,000 goal if we moved up north.

3) Move wherever the heck the government tells us. You remember that “dream job” I’ve blogged about over the last two years. The one I applied for in February 2009? Well, I was called over Xmas break and told to expect to start March 28th. That is, if I re-pass the physical fitness test and accept the final offer. In the long run, this position would pay quite a bit more than my current position can, but it would DEFINITELY mean a short term pay cut (for about two years). One of the requirements of this position is a willingness to relocate at the needs of the agency. Since we don’t know how much my starting salary will be (should know in about 45 days) and we won’t know where we will be living (until after we’ve accepted the offer), I pretty much have no clue what this would mean for our net worth. The $96,000 goal would probably decrease to like $80,000 (after my pay cut and the time it would take for Girl Ninja to find a teaching job).

It’s crazy to think Girl Ninja and I will be determining the next five years of our life over the next five weeks. Heck, it’s probably pointless to make any goals since when we have no clue where we will be living or working. I guess it’s better than not thinking things through though…right? As always, I’ll be updating you all as Girl Ninja and I face some pretty significant life decisions, and I will definitely be blogging about our financial journey throughout this process.

What’s the most significant decision you and your significant other have had to make? How much of a pay cut would you stomach for your dream job? Do you set annual financial goals for yourself?

24 thoughts on “Punch 2011 in the face

  1. I think there were 2 significant financial decisions we made as a couple. The first was to buy a second house so that my mother could move to town with us. This is a decision that cost us our goal of paying off our house in 7 years, but it was SO worth it.

    The second decision was to NOT move for a job. Because we have equal earning power, having one of us move at risk of the other losing a salary for in indefinite amount of time was just too risky in this economy. If one of us loses our job, then that’s a different story but for now we’re staying put.

    I would definitely sacrifice some short term earnings for the benefit of a dream job and future earnings. I wouldn’t have gone to college if I wasn’t willing to make that sacrifice for 4 years.

  2. Most significant decision Hubby and I had to make was when we decided to buy rather than rent; Hubby wanted a house, I wanted a condo (perhaps a townhouse if we could find a nice one in our price range)… the condo won out because of the low maintenance.

    I would take a slight paycut for my dream job, but I would hope it would only be for a short time because punching our debt in the face has become a top priority, and I’d hate to lose the momentum we’ve built up.

  3. Last year we sold our house & moved not once, but twice in 90 days. After we had sold & moved to our new location a job came up for my husband on the other side of the country. It was something we had always planned to do (move back to the east coast, not the job) so after talking my husband took a risk and made a huge career change. It was scary since he couldn’t go back to the job he left behind if this new job didn’t work out. It was definitely an adjustment for him & me and there there times we wondered what the hell we had done. We’ve been here almost 5 months now and the rough edges are wearing off. We feel we made the right choice and it’s been great for us. You’ll have to ask youself how you’d feel 10yrs from now if you turned this down. It might not pan out but there’s something exhilarating about taking a risk and making a change. I’m not a risk taker, (at all) but this last year was exciting and got the blood pumping. I might be saying something different if it hadn’t worked out but nothing ventured, nothing gained.

  4. Good luck with your 2011 ninja. A new job opportunity and 2 possible relocation scenarios, what will all that mean for PDITF? Will you still talk about rainbows and unicorns, or will you talk about something less fun, because you wont live by the beach anymore?
    I think the most significant decision my sig o and I had to make was where to live after we both finished school. We had a dream city where we were both hoping to get jobs, and a few others that we wouldnt have minded – We ended up in the dream city, but lost 1 job right away. The decision then became whether or not to stay, and we did.

  5. Ninja you are in a great spot. When I was younger I took a job with similar requirements (not physical just moving on a whim). Although I was single and sans children, it was great.

    You should still make plans and budgets just give yourself enough flexibility to change them as needed. This is a good time to take such a job…BEFORE the kids come. You and Girl Ninja can always make due together. And teachers…every school district would love to have good quality ones like Girl Ninja!

    The most significant decisions we made were for me to become a consultant rather than seek FT employment when I was laid off 3 years ago. It was my “dream job opportunity”. I was prepared to take up to a 30% pay cut just because the opportunity was worth it.

    Ultimately I made what resulted in the same pay after considering costs I had to pay out of pocket. The bottom line is I enjoyed myself, got to stay home with my twins, and lived a much less stressful life. It also led to better opportunities down the line including my job now which I LOVE LOVE LOVE.

    The second was to rent rather than buy during the bubble. Every time we were going to buy, something made us gun-shy. I thank God for that every day. If we had bought, we would have bitten off more than we could chew and who knows what life would be like for us now. I’m sure not as peaceful as it is for us now.

  6. Wow, 2011 will be quite the eventful year for you 2! The BF and I had to make a decision on where to settle down after college. We both went to college on the Central Coast so we were either going to move to Norcal (where I’m from) or to SD (where he’s from). Instead of looking in both cities, we decided to focus on SD and we both found jobs here. I think it was the best choice we’ve made but we took paycuts since we would have had higher salaries in Norcal. We want to start a family here so it was best we started out here.

  7. In our first year of marriage, I was drafted! That really turned our world upside down. It turned out well, she joined me when I reached my permanent station in Leavenworth, Kansas. The second major change was moving from New Jersey to Los Angeles. The third major change was starting a business. The important part is discussing the change extensively before you make the change. Good luck.

  8. It’s hard to say what our most significant decision was over the last 24+ years, Moving across the country? Buying our house? I’m facing one or two this year as well. They may end up being more significant than those.

    BTW – Here’s how to budget for two incomes when one of them isn’t exactly predictable: Use the “worst case” as the baseline for your budget. What are the fewest number of days Girl Ninja has worked as a substitute in a month? Is it probable she could actually work less than that? Given those probabilities, what is the least amount of income you can expect her to make? Budget your spending so your expenses are below your salary plus her minimum expected income. Any time she brings home more than that minimum, it’s a bonus and enables you to take a bigger step toward your goals.

  9. Sounds like you have a bunch of exciting opportunities. Hope you keep us all posted on your decisions and the outcomes. I’ve been pretty lucky and have always managed to increase my income with each dream job. And I don’t set annual financial goals for myself. But now I’m considering doing it…

  10. I’m interested to hear more about how you have adjusted to dual incomes. It’s a road that I’m just starting down myself. Coordinating income and dealing with debt at the same time could almost be a blog in itself.

  11. The biggest decision we’ve made as a couple was to move back (for me) to San Diego, after I had been living in Chicago for 9 years. We didn’t have jobs lined up, but we saved enough to be covered for a while, and now we’re both in much happier places with a satisfying future ahead of us. I think the key to taking such a risk is making sure you’re ready for the consequences. For instance, we moved without jobs because we’re both very skilled in our fields, so we knew we could get jobs even in this economy (it took us exactly 3 months to start new jobs, not bad at all!). Also, we saved enough to get us by for a while without jobs. I did take a pay cut to get a foot into my current employer, and now a year later I’m in a new position making more than I was in Chicago. Win-win!

    Good luck to you both with these new opportunities! Take them while you’re still young and don’t have kids to worry about, etc 🙂

  12. This will be my last year working for the government (I hv a 4 year contract w them since they paid for college) so I’m pretty excited. My bf and I bought our first car together recently and it fel so great, doing smthg as a couple since we live apart for most part of the year. We’ll also be finalising what happens after I finish up over here (in se asia) because I either move to the usa or find another job here. Might b talking abt wedding bells if all goes well 🙂

    Also hoping the bf stays at his current base for at least a few years and that he doesn’t get deployed again! I also plan to write more since I get paid for it. And do more tutoring so I can get rid of cc debt this year! Ho yeah, here’s hoping it’ll work out 🙂

  13. Congratulation on getting your dream job! It’s priceless and definitely worth taking a little pay cut in the short term for. Good luck with the next few weeks, it’ll be hectic. 🙂
    Oh, and I would stomach 75% pay cut for my dream job.

  14. Life is too short to give up on a dream for a couple bucks! With the growth of this site you shouldn’t have a problem making up the missing income?

    Follow the dream job!

  15. Long Time stalker first time replier of your site.

    In honor of your site and our resolution for 2011 for my wife and I is to go Mortal Combat finish mode on each of our student loans by the end of this year!

    Good luck to you and the Mrs this year.

    Great site! Keep up the good work.

  16. I think that if you describe something as a dream job, you should always take a pay cut to get it. The fact that you’ve considered this to be a dream job for many years now just makes it that much more obvious – you have to go for it. Considering that many, many people spend more time at their job than with their partner, life is too short to not do so. I had to make a similar decision once, and when I asked my mom for any advice, she said “Money is always the means and never the end”. Since your partner doesn’t have a permanent position, this is DEFINITELY the time to take the move unless doing so renders her unable to work at all. If she does have a permanent job right now, and it’s her dream teaching job, that’s tricky… however, as time goes by, life will make it harder and harder to take up opportunities as they present themselves.

    Best of luck with your decision!

  17. you actually made me giggle in this post….you’re not ‘up north’ until your in Northern Canada my friend….you’re still in the South if your in Seattle….

    It does sound like you’ve got a lot of potentially for change coming up! I hope whatever happens you and Girl Ninja make the best choices for you.

  18. My spouse and I don’t set yearly financial beyond how much we want to save (5 grand this year) and how much debt we want to punish (about 16 grand left to be satisfied by 1/2012).

    As far as life decisions go, having a child was a large one, but worth it. It was 9 months of anticipation and fear for a year (so far) of bliss.

    Might leave the state for a job opportunity in a place where our money will take us further this year, which will also be a major life decision.

    However, the biggest decision is whether or not to get a frosty?

  19. Buying our home was the biggest financial decision we have made so far. I would take a 1/3 pay cut to have a dream job (I make $35,000 a year now and am more than willing to only make $20,000-$25,000 if it’s via blogging). And yes, we set goals. We are hoping to fully fund 2 Roth IRA’s this year, pay off $8000 in principal on our mortgage, and add another $7000 to our emergency fund. I am aiming for our net worth to increase from $166,900 to $205,000 this year.

  20. Follow the dream. I make 45K gross and I would take a 1/3 (or more) pay cut to do a dream job. ESPECIALLY if it was temporary. My husband and I both love our jobs right now and it improves general life awesomeness by 10X.

  21. This is our reality with me in my dream job as a diplomat.

    We don’t know where we’ll live (could be somewhere super expensive like Tokyo or somewhere cheap like bangkok) or if my hubby will be able to work. We don’t know if we’ll need an all-terrain vehicle or if we`ll be able to rely on public transportation (as we do now)

    It has meant a lot of how we manage our finances. For example, we have a honking big emergency fund (25k), kept entirely liquid, in case we need to move on short notice and/or buy a vehicle. Hubby has made a deliberate choice NOT to get promoted and make more money, since at his level, that would mean becoming a manager and reducing his ability to telework his job from abroad. Better a consistent lower income than high-lows.

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