A few days ago, my brother got offered a permanent job at the place he’s been temping. They’re offering him $60/hr plus benefits. He has to work at least 10 hrs/week, but he can work up to 40. At 40 hrs/week, that would work out to $124,800 a year. Wow. But my brother plans to work about 12 hrs/week ($37,000/year). He and I went for a sweet mountain bike ride this morning before his afternoon flight to Minnesota for the national underwater hockey tournament (it’s a real sport, I promise). As soon as he gets back, he’ll be on his road bike training for next weekend’s round of races. His life is basically devoted to his various athletic pursuits, sleeping, eating, hanging out with his friends and his girlfriend, and just chillin. I’ve known him for 27 years, so his announcement that he only planned to work 12 hrs/week at the new job came as no surprise. But it sort of dumbfounds me. If someone were offering me that kind of money, I think I’d work 40 hrs/week. Or pretty darn close to it. We’d have our mortgage paid off in just a few years, we’d max out our IRAs and our HSA by April every year, we’d have a sweet emergency fund (for just in case I lost that great job) and we’d have plenty of money left over. I guess because I’ve pretty much always worked at least 40 hrs/week, it just seems normal for me, and getting that much money for it (I’ve never even gotten half that much for working more than 40 hrs/week) would only sweeten the deal.
But from my brother’s perspective, he hasn’t worked full time for about six years now. He used to have a full-time cubical job where he worked as a programmer, and he hated it. He hated being indoors all day, he hated the commute, he hated being told what to do. At the time he was 21 and earning about $45,000/year, but he left that job and never looked back. He’s spent the last six years wandering the country (and the world, including a month in Thailand and a month in England), playing all his sports, enjoying life, and working enough to pay his bills. He’s had numerous jobs over the years, some in the computer field, some in construction. He has not had health insurance, which bothers me greatly. He does not have any real savings, as he only earns enough to pay for food, gas, car insurance, and race-related expenses. He and his girlfriend live with her parents, which seems to suit all four of them quite well, although I can’t imagine not having my own place. To their credit, they are currently looking at apartments, and plan to move out before her grad school program starts next month.
My brother is obviously a very talented guy in all sorts of areas, including computer programming. But he doesn’t have any of the obsession with money and security that I have. When we were little, we would get paid pennies and nickles and dimes to do chores. Even then, over twenty years ago, he would spend his money as fast as he earned it. He’d want to go to the Dollar General store and buy army men or a cap gun or little cars. I would just want to go to the bank. We were polar opposites when it came to money – I wanted to save all of it, and hated spending anything, while he just wanted to enjoy his money here and now. Neither of us has really changed much in 20 years. But today my brother mentioned that he’s looking forward to having a retirement account with this new job (one of the benefits) and that he does plan to contribute to it. And he plans to save money in addition to the retirement plan. Even when he’s paying rent, he can live pretty easily on about $20,000/year, so he should be able to put aside a decent chunk of money even if he only works 12 hours a week. And he’ll have health insurance (whew!)
He’s obviously a much more laid-back person than I am, but it seems as if he’s beginning to see the value of having some money in the bank. I guess I could learn a thing or two from him as well – like how to not worry about the little things and just enjoy today. So here’s to my brother. I hope that the new job works out for him, and that he’s able to save some money and get ahead a bit. But I also hope that he doesn’t lose the quirkiness and spontaneity that makes him so unique.