Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Oh, am I Lucky...(WMW Post)

I'm linking up for the first time in a while with Julia and the gang at Working Mom Wednesday. Are you a working mom? Check us out!

As I am not a very good scheduler in the least (you can expect if I say "we'll be there no later than 10" you will see me around 10:30) I have chosen today's second prompt: would you rather have a large salary and crappy benefits or a smaller salary and stellar benefits?

As someone who has been in both positions, I can definitely say "Option B, Alex".

See, before kids I worked in retail management and I did this in some capacity or another for almost 10 years. I was 26 years old, in the mid-2000's, no kids, newly married, buying my first house, making close to 50 grand with no college education. I felt special, as if I had somehow charmed my way into being someone I shouldn't be. (Looking back, obviously I worked hard for that position.) Our benefits were better than most retail companies: I got 3 weeks of paid vacation, 4 personal days a year, and sick time when my store wasn't too short-staffed to manage without me (ok, so I rarely got sick time).

On the other hand, I only got one full weekend off a month, had to work until 10PM twice a week, and some weeks (during floor changes and inventory) worked well over my salaried 40 hours. I had to bow out of last minute weekend trips to the beach and turn down free college football tickets while all of my friends went tailgating on Saturdays. I was beginning to imagine raising a child in all of this and thought we could make it work, but looking back, I am SO GLAD I lost that job. The company has gone through rough times, been bought and sold and their commitment to a "work-life balance" is nearly non-existent at this point.

And then there's my job now. I started at the ground floor, doing a job that a lot of people feel is suited for a retiree or college student, and taking a cut in salary back to what I was making as a 21 year old in my first assistant manager retail position. But as I've learned this new world of banking and all of it's intricacies and regulations and audits, I have fallen in love. Sure, I have the occasional complaint about the battle between salespeople and operational people. Sure, I have clients that sometimes are like a stump in the thick mud I'm trying to navigate. Sure, I occasionally talk my husband's ear off on our commute home at the crazy thing that happened this morning. But overall, I love being able to pack up at 5PM (ish...sometimes 5:30) and head home.

Friday nights have a new meaning: a relaxed family night where we're not as strict on Jacob's bedtime and we don't feel the rush-rush-rush to get dinner made, eaten, baby bathed and in bed within 2 hours of getting home. And I now know the feeling of having the whole (3-day Holiday) weekend stretched out before me, with no mind paid to work whatsoever. I traded in my lovely weekday off for having off Columbus and President's Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Veteran's Day, and any other day the Federal Government deems a holiday. I was paid in full for 8 of the 12 weeks I was home on maternity leave for doing absolutely nothing for this company.

The typical benefits are pretty similar to what I was getting in retail, comparable vacation-sick time. Slightly better health benefits (I paid $750 total for my entire pregnancy from the first visit to the surgery to the 6 week follow up.)

But the work-life balance benefits are incomparable. And worth every bit of the $48,000ish (before taxes) that I've "lost" over the last 3 years.


  1. Congrats on finding the right career move at the right time in your life! Sounds like it was just what you needed to handle work/life balance!

  2. i agree. my jobs have been in the 30,000's but with GREAT benefits... I paid $350 for my first pregnancy!!!! crazy.