My grandma asked me this week if I am going to return to work. I came up with an answer, but I don't know that the answer I gave entirely satisfies me. I told her that I don't really intend to return to work, which is true in the short term, but the conundrum of what to do with my life is a thorny one.
There are two reasons to work. First off is money, but secondly is the structure that works brings to life. Sometimes having lots to do and many hours scheduled keeps me doing things instead of just sitting around. I get a lot more productive when I have to be! I don't think that actually would improve my life overall though because it would certainly increase my stress and it would be hard on Wendy. Our life right now relies on me being able to just handle everything that she doesn't want to handle and our schedule is based quite substantially on me being home. We don't have to worry about who will cook or do dishes or how we will get to the library in time. I just do it, and that relieves so much tension.
To figure out if the money from working would make me want to go back to it I need to sort out exactly what I would buy with that money. Our savings are ticking up these days at a rate that makes me comfortable, but we certainly aren't rich. We don't have financial worries, but we also have to live frugally to achieve this. So what would me earning 60k a year bring us?
A lot of that money would get soaked up by work costs and taxes. Some costs are direct, like buying work clothes and transportation, but other costs creep in. We would end up eating out more, paying people to do stuff for us, and maybe forking over money to keep Elli entertained and taken care of while work was happening. Consider all that, and the actual net benefit is probably in the 30k / year range.
The thing I most want to buy is a bigger condo. For 240k we could upgrade ourselves to the big units at the top of our building, which have a better layout, double the living room space (so we could actually entertain more than 3 guests at a time....), bigger kitchen, an office... it would be glorious.
But 240k is 8 years of work. It does last a lifetime, but because there are greater taxes associated I should probably budget more like 300k, which pushes it up to 10 years of work.
10 years. That is a LOT of selling beds. Or writing code, or interfacing between coders and clients, or whatever it is I end up doing. I have another 50 years ahead of me, and I am not at all convinced I want to spend 20% of it in a giant ball of stress trying to save up for a bigger condo.
The only other thing I can think of that I really want to buy but am hesitant to pay for it tattooes. If I could get thoroughly inked up without having to worry about money I would, but when I think of an elaborate tattoo that costs 10k and then consider it would take 4 months of work to earn, I can't justify the expense. I would rather just have my own plain boring skin than put in 4 months at a job.
When Elli moves out these values may change. My need for space will go down, but my desire for more stuff to do and more structure will no doubt go up. Also the stressors on Wendy will drop dramatically and the need for me to be home will be less.
So while working again is possible, right now I do the math and it just doesn't seem like the thing to do. Maybe someday I will have the opportunity to do something I love which is worth it for its own sake, but as long as work is work it seems like my place right now is at home.