A Story About Paying Off Debt and the Obstacles Along the Way

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Starting Again

One of my goals is to write more frequently on the blog: shorter posts, most likely, but more often. So here we go!

A Fresh Start

Two things happen tomorrow: my kid starts a new school year, and I start a new part-time job.

The Kiddo has mixed feelings about school. He's been a bit bored the past few weeks, so I think he's looking forward to seeing his friends and having more to do. On the other hand, he's not excited about homework, and he knows his days are likely to be long and tiring. It will be a challenging year from an academic standpoint.

Meanwhile, I have mixed feelings about starting this part-time job. The extra money will be extremely nice, but because so many of my previous jobs have been terrible, I can't help but walk into this endeavor with a hefty dose of skepticism.

I'm particularly skeptical about the pay structure. In previous teaching positions, I've always been paid a salary or a per-class stipend. In this case, I'm on an hourly timesheet-type structure, and I'm limited to 12 hours a week. I'm wary because it's hard to know how long grading, responding to emails, reviewing material, and attending meetings will take, especially at first.

What I do know is that I will not be doing any of it for free.

(Repeating for myself: I will not be doing any of it for free. I will not be doing any of it for free. I will not be doing any of it for free.)

Secondly, although I greatly, GREATLY appreciate the fact that I didn't have to jump through two dozen hoops to get this gig, I am not super excited about the job itself (I have to be honest). It's another version of work I've done for the last 10+ years, work that I keep falling back into because it's familiar and generally fairly easy.

But it's just 12 hours a week, so there's that. In a sense, who cares if I'm not pumped about it.

Still Waiting

I'm also still waiting for news on the full-time job I applied and interviewed for. Fortysomething, while supportive of whatever I do, thinks I should forget about it. He believes going back to 40 hours a week will be too stressful for me and that the part-time option will be better for everyone. Between my part-time job and pet sitting, we should be able to get by without dipping into savings. Plus, one of us will always be around to handle kid-related activities and issues.

I'm on the fence. I see his point, but I think the right full-time job, especially one in my field (which this is) with friendly in-person coworkers and good work-life balance, could be beneficial financially and emotionally.

Financially, we'd be able to live comfortably, especially with employer-sponsored benefits thrown into the mix. By my calculations, we'd be able to pay off our campground membership, throw $1000/month at the student loan, and still put a good chunk of cash into savings and investments. We'd have something to fall back on if something happens to Fortysomething's job.

Emotionally, although I'm wary of finding myself in yet another stressful situation and will never again work for an employer like my last one, I do appreciate having work to occupy my mind and keep it from spiraling out of control, especially at a time when everything in this country seems so scary and catastrophic. And... I went to school to do science. I'm good at science. Is it too much to ask to have a science-y job that is both fulfilling and manageable?

That said, I'm not enjoying the waiting game, and I strongly suspect the fact that I didn't hear something last week means I'm not getting an offer.

We'll see. I'll let you know. And I suppose I'll keep applying for other jobs as interesting ones pop up, though the job market here is looking pretty sparse at the moment.

Am I Still On A Career Break?

This is something I keep asking myself, and I'm not really sure what the answer is. I suppose I'm in a transitional phase: I'm actively trying to figure out what's next and experimenting with some different possibilities. What I do know for sure is that I'm ready to dig back into something now that I have renewed energy and a better idea of what I do and do not want.


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you! I promise, promise, promise I won't work for free.

  2. Teaching asks for so much free work. Don't do it! Good luck with interviewing.

    1. It really does! "Oh, can you just spend some time reading through the course in your free time?" Um, no. LOL.

  3. The best part of being able to tread water / slowly get ahead with the setup you have now is that you don’t have to accept a crap job.


    Seriously, I think this sounds good. You can make a little money, see how it goes. You can always quit/stop if it doesn't work well for you. I'm glad you're continuing to write as you see what happens.

    1. Thank you! I'm glad, too. And you're right - it's easy to quit this kind of job if it isn't working out. Luckily, the first week went well, and I have high hopes that this gig will continue to be a good choice.

  5. Congrats in the part time job!!! It does sound like you are in transition, but that's not a bad thing. Glad to hear you are doing well.
    Do not work for free.

  6. Good luck! It sounds promising, but do.not.work.for.free. Keep us posted!

    1. I was super conscientious about logging ALL of my work time this week! :-) Thank you for the kind words.

  7. I hope your first days went well!

  8. Mrs. Done by Forty and I had very similar conversations about full time vs. part time, and the various trade offs inherent with each. What about daycare? Would we all see each other enough in full time? Would there be more stress? And on the positive side, how do we quantify work satisfaction and a feeling of purpose? What's the value of really good benefits from work (healthcare, dental, 401k, etc. etc.)?

    In the end, she decided that, like you, the right full time job would be a boon. Good for her, good for us, and not to get too sappy, good for the world or whatever: she's a science person too and I think her organization and the people she'd work with would be very lucky to have her contributions.

    Anyway, I hope that the org gets back to you with good news, and soon. :)