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Has anyone ever successfully "stepped back"?

(11 Posts)
Lindsay81 Sat 08-Nov-14 16:01:43

Me and DH in our mid-30s, no kids. Both have high stress jobs in the financial and legal industry. I am the breadwinner, earning nearly double what DH does (combined income around £120k).

For several reasons which are health, happiness and sanity (!) related, I think I need to look for something less stressful, but this will likely mean a significant drop in salary. Our bills, mortgage etc are proportional to our income but I'd imagine there are ways we could cut back if we wanted. We do save quite a bit and also have a very comfortable amount of disposable income each month.

Has anyone ever managed to do this and if so, what practical steps did you take, what changes did you need to make, sacrifices etc. And most importantly, are you happier now?

Yardarm Sat 08-Nov-14 16:08:01

Yes, DH reduced hours this year by giving up a management responsibility and going down to 4 days a week. We can manage the reduction in salary and it has reduced his stress level and improved his wellbeing. It's nice that he's at home a little bit more for the kids too. We've all benefitted. I recommend it. You can always step back up again later if you want or need to.

rookiemater Sun 09-Nov-14 09:12:58

Yes I reduced my grade and hours at work a few years ago when it was apparent that I either did that,gave up work or had a breakdown. It's been fine, my work life balance is a lot better and jobs at my old grade come up every few months and I know I'd be in with a very good chance if I wanted to apply, which frankly at the minute I don't
You need to be as sure as you can be that your marriage is secure as you're sacrificing income which has pension implications, for me though before I was so unhappy and exhausted whereas now I'm a lot happier.
It is hard when I see people progressing past me in the ranks but I just try to remember that everyone's circumstances are different - they may be single or blokes with a Sahm or have loads of family near by. I only regret not doing it sooner, I feel as if I missed the good parts of Ds early childhood as so stressed.

FunkyBoldRibena Sun 09-Nov-14 09:24:24

Yes, i was on a huge whack and decided that i hated the corporate world, so switched jobs to become a director of a small company to do a specific job for one client and when that ended, i decided to go for jobs teaching gardening to schoolkids and now have my own company doijg just that. Made the switch nearly 6 years ago.

We used to overpay the mortgage which took 10 years off, so we just reduced loads of spend, like driving hols in France rather than a fortnight in new york etc. I grow a fair amount of our own food, and get free firewood from the community garden that i run so reducing bills.

And i still have savings. Which is nice.

PervyMuskrat Sun 09-Nov-14 10:03:33

Yes, I changed from a director role back to a manager role on returning to work after DC1. Pretty much halved my salary but equally I now work approximately half the hours I used to as I rarely work weekends and only the occasional evening at peak times. I do work the occasional day or two of overtime, but I get it back as time off or paid. There's a lot of flexibility on both sides, which is handy when you have sick DC.

To prepare for this, I worked out the minimum I'd be happy to live on (including if DH lost his job and we had to manage on my wage alone) and started from that in salary negotiations. We haven't changed our lifestyle that much (other than not going out as often, but that's because we need evening childcare) but obviously we don't save as much. We still have savings from my previous job, which gives us a safety net.

I'm so much happier now smile

Queenofknickers Sun 09-Nov-14 10:52:00

Unfortunately I ignored the signs and had a breakdown. Needless to say I don't recommend it! Even though we have 1/3 of the money we had, I'm not spending a fortune on commuting, pret sandwiches and guilt toys for the children I never used to see. I have time to potter round Lidl rather than doing a grab in M&S food. Posh car has gone back and I buy my clothes off eBay. Most importantly I'm getting better. Please don't wait until you are ill - it has taken me nearly a year to begin to recover.

Muskey Sun 09-Nov-14 11:03:43

About 7 years ago I took voluntary redundancy as my job was driving me demented too much stress too much aggro etc. I did some voluntary work and then went back to university to retrain. After that I secured a part time job which is a much lower grade than I was on and I am so happy letting someone else take the pressure. the fact that my boss micro manages everything makes my job much easier.My husband works abroad a lot and has decided the time is right for him to stop doing what he does. He is hoping to find a job in the uk ( probably part time) and then I will go full time as he needs a rest too. We have quite a lot of savings but are looking to downsize our house which will help our plans. We do spend a lot than we used to but tbh I don't miss that way of life as it was quite a shallow existence.

Muskey Sun 09-Nov-14 11:05:36

Ps queen of knickers I am glad you are on the mend.
Pps the best thing we ever did was pay off our credit cards and then cut them up. Nowadays if we can't afford something we save up until we can afford it

TipseyTorvey Sun 09-Nov-14 11:19:46

Yes, went from senior management in charge or large intl team to not managing anyone in another company. Now work only my hours and let my boss do all the stressing and politics. You adjust lifestyle to salary mainly if it's not too drastic. Am MUCH happier, life isn't perfect but work stays at work now rather than intruding upon my evenings and weekends so DC's get my full attention.

rookiemater Sun 09-Nov-14 14:40:52

It's great to know I'm in such good company - although my starting point probably wasn't as elevated as most. I usually feel like it's my dirty little secret, with all this Lean In nonsense I feel like a bit of a feminist failure in that not only did I not Lean it, I took a giant leap backwards.

An important factor is to be really honest with yourself about what type of person you are. I never really enjoyed corporate upper management life, although the car and airmiles were a nice perk, so it didn't bother me stepping back.

I am however a people pleaser, so it has been very hard not sticking my hand up and volunteering for extra responsibilities or saying no when people heap it on as your organisation may not care that you have dropped salary and will just see a capable competent member of staff who could be exploited, and for a while at the start there were periods where I was effectively working my old job at reduced pay.

It's probably worthwhile going to a new organisation if you can. I didn't want to lose a final salary pension, also wouldn't have been able to get a p/t job on equivalent salary elsewhere, so stayed put.

Lindsay81 Sun 09-Nov-14 16:14:00

Thank you all SO much for this feedback and all your experiences. There are a lot of parallels here with my situation and so much food for thought.

Glad to hear you are getting better queen :-)

The answer seems to be clear... I just need to work out a few things to make it happen, I think.

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