When I was in college I defined my success by grades. When I entered the working world I largely defined my success largely by my job and my finances. I used to love my work (electrical engineering/computer science) but after several years I found I had a high-paying but unsatisfying job.
I went back to school and earned a Master’s Degree in finance. I earned a 4.o and really enjoyed returning to college. After graduating, I was honored to be offered an adjunct professorship in Finance. The pros of this job are satisfaction, autonomy, and the opportunity to help students learn complex tops. The cons are underemployment and relatively low pay and no benefits.
So my three-legged stool of financial success is off balance: I still have great retirement savings, a great credit score, and mediocre earnings. This has shaken my self esteem. Even though teaching at a major university is a cool and prestigious job, frankly I miss the money. My wife and are or doing OK financially, she has here own company with its ups and downs, and we also have a rental property that provides some additional income.
We have no debt except for a mortgage. If it wasn’t for the mortgage, I’d feel a lot more comfortable. I used to own my own home (before I got married), but my wife wanted a better home. That gave us a new mortgage. Bummer.
My wife and I are learning to be more frugal. For me this a slow, tough adjustment. Since my work is currently part-time, I also have to find inexpensive ways to occupy my free time (like blogging:).
The really tough adjustment is adjusting to underemployment. I do important work and am trying to convince myself to value that more strongly. My wife and I have a loving marriage, and that is something to be proud of — it takes work! I have been working on my diet and exercise, and am much healthier than in my old engineering job — the benefits of more free time.
My learning is that defining yourself mostly by money and finances is a bad idea. We humans are so much more than our jobs. We can be good spouses, loving pet owners, dreamers, experimenters, hobbyists, friends, and many other things. My view has been too narrow, but I’m working on it. There is so much more to life than jobs and money!