Option #3. An impromptu interview and afterthoughts

IMG_2616I had an interview for a job yesterday. That’s right, Option #3, “continue working the same job because I’m a big scaredy-cat.” is in full effect.

Why the hell do I want to take this job?

Here’s the real reason I’m even considering it.

If I’d been smart enough to start investing back in 2008, I wouldn’t even consider this. I wasn’t, therefore my cost basis is super high and this bull market is already over seven years old. It’s also election year and I’m concerned that the bull is tired, and I don’t want to test the sequence of returns risk. If there is a bear market or recession I’d rather have a paycheck to pay the bills rather than a limping portfolio. This is a young and naive investor talking here.

Yes, I realize that I’m contradicting myself big time.

Since I’ve been back in the US, I’ve gone to work twice to maintain flight currency. The first time I was in one of the full time instructors had just given his notice. That’s right, right as I get home a non-deployable position becomes available. What timing! Of course I’ll apply. The primal self-preservation instinct kicked in.

The second time I went to work it had been nearly four weeks since I had applied and I still hadn’t heard anything. When my manager wasn’t busy I asked about it, and of course I got the normal “I’ve been waiting for all of the applicants to finish applying” and that was that. More waiting I guess.

Until he said we would interview in about an hour. Oh! Okay then.


The interview

It started out with the usual stupid questions.

“Why do you want to work here?” and,

“What qualifications or skills do you bring to this team?”

Booorring. But whatever. I played along.

As he was explaining the duties and tasks of the job position I was weighing each one in my head. Phrases like create lesson plans, maintain accurate grade sheets, and complaints to human resources stuck out like sore thumbs.

The whole time we were talking I couldn’t help but think about how this is a great job that I don’t actually want. I could see the future and picture myself stressed from the sheer busyness, more tired from the horrendous commute, and less fit because of 12 hour work days.

Let me expand on that. I live in Salt Lake City. The job site is 86 miles away. Most of the time they work four days a week, averaging around 11 hours per day. I wake up at 4:15am, and am out the door by 5. I get home by 6pm and have a measly three hours to eat, shower, and get the lunch box ready for the next day. Besides the lack of time left in the day, I just don’t have energy left to go running, work out, or anything else.

Looking around the double-wide trailer at the flight line I saw one, maybe two people who looked reasonably fit. Most of the other employees are at least twenty pounds overweight with most of it hanging out around their abdomen.

Sitting while driving to the office. Sitting while riding to the Job Site. Sitting while flying. I couldn’t help but think of how my health and well-being would be affected. Being financially independent makes you hyper-sensitive to all of the bullshit that comes with wage slavery.


The salary

At the end of the Q & A part of the interview, I asked what the salary range was for this position. He didn’t remember off the top of his head, and I had to coax him to look at the documentation. He was willing to give it to me after I expressed the need to know.

55k  to 91k. Quite a spread. I’m sitting right in the middle, so there’s an opportunity to get a good raise.

“But the raise would only be a few percent” he said.

Yeah, we’ll see about that. Let’s run some numbers.

I make $76,210 annually. A 3% raise would bump that up to $78,496. I’d be sacrificing a lot of flexibility and free time for only $2,286 extra per year. No thanks. Did I mention how much human time is wasted in a car just for this job? I’ll reiterate in a minute.

So what would be worthwhile? Let’s just look at the sheer numbers first, and then I’ll consider what my free time is worth.

4% $79,258, or an additional $3,048

6% $80,783, or an additional $4,572

8% $82,783, or an additional $6,096

10%  $83,831, or an additional $7,621

15% $87,642, or an additional $11,431

19% $90,690, or an additional $14,480. This is just under the cap for the position.


Determining my value

I’m going to calculate this on a keep working vs. initiate the SuperPlan basis. I’ve got the end in mind, so it’s all or nothing.

My biggest issue is the human time wasted by commuting: 28 FULL DAYS PER YEAR! That deserves shouty-capitals and expletives. I should just stop there; what the hell am I thinking? What would you do with an extra 28 whole days?

Next is the cost of commuting. I bought a used Chevy Sonic LT in cash for $9,000, and my insurance is  $875 per year. Calculating the distance to The Office and back (72 miles), my observed MPG (37 highway), and frequency of work (4 days per week * 50 weeks per year) leads me to shell out around $1,000 for fuel (if gas prices remain the same). I don’t really know what to put for maintenance, but I just had to take it in for minor service that set me back $207. I’ll triple that to err on the side of caution. $2,496 is the tab.

Next is my skill and usefulness in that position. Why should they choose me over the other applicants? It’s simple; I’m the best candidate, hands down. Not only am I one of the most talented people in the program, I’m also a competent operator in all positions held. My reputation is sound and it speaks for itself within the program. I’m already in Utah, so they won’t have to wait for someone to finish a deployment, or relocate them from another job site. If we are unable to agree on a price, they will soon lose an experienced and valuable employee and it costs around $200,000 to train me.

What if I didn’t take this permanent position? How would my aforementioned health and well-being be and how would it shape my future?

Well, for starters I could work as much or as little as I want for the rest of 2016, and I’d be on track to initiate the SuperPlan.

I would work just enough to get $2,500 per month to test my early retirement budget. Possibly a little bit more to pay for the gas to commute to work. About 56 hours, or five work days per pay-period makes this happen. I can choose which days of the week to work because I’m just an extra body. I’d have four days off per week, providing ample time for fun, exercise, and socializing.


The tally

Human time wasted: Priceless

Cost of commuting: $2,496 annually

Skills, usefulness, and potential loss: Extremely high



I’m going to negotiate towards the top at 19% (additional $14,480), with a floor of 15% ($11,431). The additional dollars per year are pre-tax, and the tally real dollars are post-tax which also needs consideration.

The power of FI allows you to choose. I’m still doing this job because I want to, not because I need to, and that is such a heady feeling.





Addition: I received this great article on how presidential elections affect the markets in Wade Pfau’s email list. You can sign up or check out his articles at retirementresearcher.com.


3 thoughts on “Option #3. An impromptu interview and afterthoughts

    • It is horrible! I just need to grow some *ahem* things and be done with this craziness.

      Yes, Telluride sounds way more awesome : ). I’m going to be researching options, i.e. part time work, both locally and destination based here pretty soon.


  1. I love that you actually tallied up the total amount of time spent commuting as that is almost a full month spent in the car just to get to and from work. Ack! I often wonder if people ever think about how much of a time suck commuting can be. I just calculated mine and I am only at about 8 1/2 days per year but am envious of my husband’s 1.5 mile bike commute.

    Liked by 1 person

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