Choosing Part-Time

The last two jobs my wife has been offered (and accepted) were both part-time jobs.

The first, as a landscape architect, was 4 work days (32 hours) per week.

The second, as a registered nurse, was 2 work days (24 hours) per week.

In neither case was she necessarily looking for part-time employment – we don’t have children and we’re young, so full-time employment is what you’re supposed to seek and do, right?

choosing part time work vs full timeAlas, part-time employment was what she was able to secure an offer on – after much searching for full-time jobs. Chalk it up to the state of employment in this country, with employers looking to limit benefits due and “test” new hires out. We figured, with hard work, a full-time “upgrade” would happen eventually.

Sure enough, it did.

Within a year of starting with the new architecture/engineering firm and just a few months after starting as a nurse, an offer to take on more hours came from management – without any prompting.

In the case of the architecture firm – she had already started taking pre-requisites that would enable her to start a nursing career. 4 work days + a few classes? That would be a handful for anyone, but manageable. 5 work days + school? Still manageable, but definitely high stress. We deliberated. I told her it was entirely up to her. And she graciously declined her employer’s offer for the increased workload.

As a nurse, however, the situation was a bit different. This time there was no school and “only” 24 hours per week (I put only in quotes, because working two night shifts and having six patients per night as a brand new nurse is not easy, by any stretch of the imagination). Adding a third shift per week would increase her hours 50%, but still “only” tally up to 36 hours per week.

No kids, no school, and moving up to 36 hours per week? No-brainer, right?! After all, there’s a stigma that part-time work isn’t real work, or at least isn’t being “gainfully” employed. When you’re relatively young, why not work as many hours as you can to make more money to spend on whatever your heart desires?

The decision was, in fact, a no-brainer. Quick and easy, with almost no deliberation.

“No thanks”.

Whaaaaa?! Why?!


Hates the job?


No. No. And no.

If you want to label it as something, label it as “able”. For the first time in our lives, one of us had turned down full-time hours because we realize that the incremental gains in income will have zero incremental gains in quality of life.

And that feels pretty damn good.

We’ve got a ways to go to hit our crossover point and beyond, but if turning down full-time employment in favor of part-time is not an early symptom (at least) of financial independence, then I don’t know what it is.

And while the financial independence and retirement goal may be long-term or even non-existent goal for many, the reality for most is that we live in an unprecedented time of prosperity that is being completely deflated by gross over-consumption. Most readers here will have opportunity to boost our income and reduce our consumption to levels that will allow us to buy back a piece of the most precious commodity we have access to: our time.

Maybe that means working fewer hours. Maybe that means working no hours. Either way, I think it’s a goal we can all get behind.

Choosing Part-Time Vs. Full-Time Work Discussion:

  • Have you been in a situation where you have chosen part-time vs full-time hours? Why did you make that choice?
  • Do you foresee a situation in which you would make a similar move? What would enable you to do so?

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