The Best Time To Work May Be During Or After A Pandemic

Although there is a growing apathy towards work given some people's investment returns are beating their work income, the best time to work might be during or right after a pandemic. The way millions now work is much more flexible, which is much better.

One of the biggest things I disliked about work was having to commute. Now that my son is back in preschool, I have to leave the house by 8:30 am to drop him off no later than 9 am. Then I've got to pick him up by 3:45 pm, otherwise, we'll be charged a late fee.

Driving 15-20 minutes each way is not that big of a deal. It's just something I haven't done since 2012. It's more the obligation of having to be somewhere at a certain time that takes getting used to again.

Commuting Monday through Friday puts me back in work mode. I turn on my favorite podcasts, play them on 1.5X speed, and away I go. Invariably, there will be something that happens during my rush-hour commute that increases stress.

Therefore, perhaps I should get a job if I'm already going to experience the mundanity of the daily commute for the next 14 years. At least this way, my commute will feel more productive.

If you've been a stay-at-home parent for several years, thinking of coming out of early retirement, or disgruntled with your current job, this post is for you.

The Best Time To Work May Be During A Pandemic

To help buttress my theory that the best time to work in some professions may be during a pandemic, I talked to my friends about their current work lives. Most of them come from either my weekly softball meetup group or my tennis club.

Here are some reasons why now may be the best time to work. I'd love to hear your perspective as well if you’ve been working throughout the entire pandemic.

1) Flexible Work Hours

Jake is a 24-year-old software engineer who joined Facebook in Fall 2020. He sometimes sends out group requests to see if anybody wants to join him for a day game to watch the SF Giants.

When I asked him how he was able to watch a game from 1:30 pm to 4 pm on a weekday, he said that Facebook has extremely flexible hours. So long as he gets his work done, all is good.

With no boss checking what you're doing every hour, you have more flexibility to run errands during the day, work out, take care of your kids, and travel.

When I was in my early 20s, I didn't dare goof off during work hours. I was a cost center that could be fired at any moment. Nowadays, it seems like there's a lot more flexibility.

2) More Vacation Time

Qubert is a 32-year-old analytics consultant for a major bank. He no longer has to commute.

This summer, he took four vacations each between four days to eight days long. Each vacation was a flight somewhere. When I asked him how he was able to take so much vacation, he said his company has an unlimited vacation day policy.

In the past, employees felt pressure not to take advantage of the unlimited vacation time policy. However, with the rising awareness of mental health issues, more employees have. It's easier to not feel the social pressure of always working when you no longer see your colleagues every day in person.

When he went down to LA to see his family for a week, he was able to “work” for three days. He said that even though work is busy, he felt he was living a more balanced life.

After my Facebook friend took a week's vacation at the beginning of the summer, he took a two-week vacation to see his family back in New York. He also said he did some work while back home.

His vacation policy is in stark contrast to my first two years working in finance. I didn't take a day off my first year. For my second year, I might have taken five days off.

3) A Greater Ability To Side Hustle

Perhaps the best reason why now is the best time to work is due to the greater ability to work on side hustles outside of work.

I did a podcast interview on Paychecks & Balances this summer. As I was listening to Rich's older episodes to prepare, I realized he works at Google. One of his other guests, Roger, works at Google too.

Based on both their podcasts, blogs, books, financial planning consulting, and social media activity, I thought Rich and Roger were full-time creators and solopreneurs!

When I was working in finance, I wasn't technically allowed to do any side hustles. All outside interests that made money had to be reported to avoid any potential conflicts of interest.

These side hustle restrictions I had while working in finance crimped my style. Therefore, I thought the best thing to do would be to leave so I could have 100% freedom to write whatever I wanted on Financial Samurai.

Nowadays, it doesn't seem like many employers don't care what you do outside of work hours. You can run a very successful business and so long as you still do your work, you're good.

As a parent now, the ability to earn multiple six-figures with healthcare and retirement benefits is already really attractive. But to also let me continue to express my creativity, unencumbered with Financial Samurai would be a real treat.

I already spend most of my time writing before 8:30 am anyway. Therefore, my work on Financial Samurai wouldn't impede my day job work at all. Plus, if there's a lot more work flexibility during the day, it would be easy for me to sneak some Financial Samurai time in without the employer knowing or caring.

4) Much Higher Pay

Inflation has not only helped push asset prices higher, but pay is also way up from when I left in 2012. For example, first-year analysts at Goldman Sachs got a 37.5% base salary pay bump to $110,000 this year. Not bad! When I started in 1999, my base salary was only $40,000.

Thanks to so many more people questioning the meaning of life during the pandemic, a lot more people are quitting. With a lot more people quitting, companies are having to pay more and provide more benefits to retain and attract employees.

For example, after my friend joined Bill dot com pre-IPO, she joined another startup for a 30% total compensation increase. Her new startup will likely grow even faster than Bill dot com, which is impressive since Bill dot com is up more than 200% since its IPO in December 2019.

There are also stories of intrepid folks working two full-time jobs concurrently! When you don't have to do double the work, making double the salary is a nice return.

Number of U.S job quits, 4 million job quitters in 2021

5) Children Are Going Back To School

Having to take care of a young child all day is hard work. To then have to take care of a child and do your regular day job is almost impossible. As a result, the demand for au pairs and nannies surged during the pandemic.

However, with more children going back to school, the stress of doing both jobs has dissipated. In a way, it's like going from swinging two bats at once to only swinging one bat.

You could go to the park and play tennis with your friends all day. But after a while, too much leisure gets boring as an early retiree. Instead, why not get a job that pays well and also lets you play during the day thanks to greater work flexibility?

Before the pandemic began, I had a difficult time getting people to hit with late morning. Now, it's no problem. One guy I hit with is a managing partner at a large private equity shop. He's probably pulling down 10s of millions each year and can hit at 11 am.

Suddenly, my freedom no longer feels very special since he can do the same thing while making tons of money.

Envisioning The Ideal Work Day Schedule

Here is a scenario that I think could work. The job would pay a $250,000 base salary with a $600,000 equity grant that vests over three years. I'd receive subsidized healthcare benefits and $10,000 a year in 401k match.

6:00 am – 7:45 am – Write an article for Financial Samurai. Respond to comments and e-mails where necessary.

7:45 am – 8:30 am – Spend time with my daughter and wife, eat some fruit for breakfast.

8:30 am – Leave house to drop off son by 8:50 am.

9:05 am – Get to work. The preschool is on the way to downtown where many office buildings are located.

9:05 am – 12 noon – Press buttons on a keyboard, go to meetings, get on Zoom calls, catch up with co-workers at the water cooler

12 pm – 12:30 pm – Eat lunch, respond to comments and e-mails for Financial Samurai if necessary during my break

12:30 pm – 3:10 pm – Press buttons on a keyboard, listen to more people speak at meetings, send e-mails telling people what to do, close some deals

3:30 pm – 5 pm – Pick up son and spend quality time with him at a new playground or the beach, or go for a neighborhood walk.

5 pm – Unwind at home for 30 minutes and spend time with my daughter and wife from 5:30 pm – 7 pm.

7 pm – 7:45 pm – Catch up with day job stuff while eating dinner.

7:45 pm – 8:30 pm – Spend time with my son until bed time.

8:30 pm onwards – Freedom to do whatever.

Get To Do It All While Making More Money

This schedule will enable me to spend 2+ hours with my daughter, 2+ hours a day with my son, and 3+ hours with my wife. We'll then spend a lot more time together during the weekends. The average hours worked a week in America is still very low.

I'll still get to publish on Financial Samurai at least twice a week. Meanwhile, I'll also get to earn enough from my day job to take care of my family. Who knows, I might even meet a lot of cool people at work.

The main downside to this schedule is that I don't get to nap after lunch, which I truly love to do. However, I'm assuming this job would allow me to work from home at least two days a week. Therefore, during the days I do work from home I can take naps and spend more time with my daughter and wife.

Work politics will be an inevitability. However, as someone who doesn't wish to climb the corporate ladder, I assume the politics won't bother me as much.

Work Is No Longer The Same As It Once Was

The reason why I left work in 2012 was because I wanted more freedom. I decided to retire before the ideal retirement age range of 41-45 because I was suck of feeling trapped.

Commuting was a PITA and so was dealing with office politics. The endless meetings felt like such a waste of time. And I sas no longer getting paid commensurate to my strong performance. My net worth reached above average for my age and I figured why not retire early and live more free.

Thanks to the pandemic, the knowledge-working economy has evolved. Their jobs and my work online have now converged. Therefore, instead of remaining a solopreneur with all the pressures on me to provide for my family, why not relieve a lot of the pressure by getting a job?

Although my tech stocks and San Francisco real estate have done well over the years, I finally feel like I'm missing the boat thanks to the evolution of work. The longer the bull market lasts, the more I feel like I'm missing out because people get to make huge salaries and earn large company equity returns.

Just take a look at the stocks of Facebook, Google, Apple, and so many more. Their growth is simply amazing!

One Blindspot In My Ideal Work Schedule

I say the best time to work is when you can get paid more and have more autonomy. As an outsider looking in, I feel I should participate more. Otherwise, why bother staying in San Francisco?

The one big blindspot is that maybe the people I've spoken to are making it seem like work/life is better than it really is. Maybe they actually don't have as much freedom as they say? Please share your perspective.

My one anecdote comes from picking up my boy from preschool at 3:30 pm. Out of a class of 18 children, only two or three (including my son) come out for pickup at 3:30pm. The rest (83%) come out for pickup after hours because neither parent can pick them up. So maybe only a minority of employers are providing greater flexibility.

Obviously, I would only agree to work for the new company if it agrees to my desired work schedule.

Let me first see if I can convince my wife to go back to work and try things out. Wish me luck! And if I can't convince my wife, then I'm hoping all of you can share with me how your work life has changed since the pandemic began.

Readers, do you think now is the best time to work? If you are able to work from home, are you finding work and life to be more enjoyable? Is work easier? What are the downsides to work since the pandemic began? I'd love to understand what I'm missing.

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About The Author

56 thoughts on “The Best Time To Work May Be During Or After A Pandemic”

  1. You spotted it, Sam. Work two remote jobs at once, reach financial freedom sooner! Thanks for the years of inspiration. Long time reader and follower.

  2. Based upon your numerous articles, it would appear that you already have sufficient passive income to live much better than the average American so I would question your motivation of wanting to work just to make more money. What are you missing in your life that you need more money? And if you were to move to a much less expensive locale than San Francisco, your current passive income would permit you to spend more freely (although much like me, I suspect you have a hard time justifying more expenses).

    I get the impression you are missing the work environment more than anything else and quite possibly are only remembering the positives and not the negatives that led you to quit the first time around. Maybe you are just getting a bit bored staying home so much. I can completely understand, I retired at 53 in 2014 and began traveling around the world 6 – 9 months every year, until the end of 2019. I could possibly begin to travel again, but with changing restrictions and the risk of becoming ill in a country where I did not speak the language and health care might be less than adequate, I’m just staying put a bit longer.

  3. Hi Sam-

    I am in sales and my job is 100x easier post pandemic. I used to spend about 20 hours a week in an office and 20 hours traveling to see customers. Half the office time was wasted socializing or just being there to show face.

    Now, with WFH, I work about 15 hours a week and have been for 1.5 years. I’m early 30s and in sales and make about $300,000 a year. I could work more but it’s not worth it at this point.

    I don’t have a side hustle because I’m
    Not interested in working more. The only problem is I spend about 3-4 hours a day not doing anything work related but I’m checking my phone every 5-10 minutes to see if my boss messaged me or if there’s any customer issue. I believe this makes me live in a bit of an anxious state but I’ll take it! This won’t last forever though, it’s just a lucky period until work travel starts again probably next spring.

      1. Nothing too exciting. I play golf a lot. I exercise almost every day at 3pm when the gym is empty. I go to a lot of self care type appointments like physical therapy, chiropractor, mental therapy, massages, or other doctors which eats up a lot of time with travel to the offices. I sometimes take a nap after the gym from 4-5 to recharge for the night. My wife works more than me so I do a lot of household chores during the day. I listen to podcasts or read financial blogs (-;

  4. Well the pandemic elongated my career or extended my retirement date since March 16, 2020 as I was seriously looking to retire at the end of 2020. The pandemic put me firmly into OMY as I am working remotely. However, being in IT Operations, we are “always on” anyway … the pandemic just kept me from having to commute 30 minutes each way which honestly was a nice break in the day for me to veg out … often times I didn’t recall how I got home…was on autopilot :-) … However, after a year, I like working remotely and enjoy the flexibility but the work is the same, the meetings are the same, the politics are the same…just virtual. I sit more at home than I did in the office as my leadership style is walking around and talking with folks even if it is just about their home project, kids ball games or what they had for dinner last night. Although I try to engage with non-work talk, it isn’t the same over video or chat. Now everything seems to be all about work, work, work. Honestly, this remote work isn’t for me and commuting to the office again is not something I want to go back to.

    So what the pandemic did tell me is that my body needs to move. Move more than just the 5:30am workout/pickleball pickup games and weekend chores/projects with the occasional bike ride. I learned that I want to spend more time doing things I want to do, move around and get away from doing what others believe is the priority. After 36 years, time to do something different! Looking to retire, 12/31!

    That’s what this pandemic re-enforced in me…time is precious. Don’t waste it!

  5. Sabbatical— A sabbatical year is a prolonged hiatus typically one year, in the career of an otherwise successful individual taken in order to fulfill some dream. e.g. writing a book or traveling extensively.

    Financial Samurai sabbatical— A period of time a successful person uses to write a book, post and comment on his blog, do podcasts, manage investments, and perhaps get a job. :)

    1. Hah, yes, funny point. Well… I can’t travel extensively during this time. But I can press a lot of buttons on a keyboard!

      Leave no stone unturned I say! And make sure there is no regret.

      The one thing I know a lot of people end up regretting is working too much and not spending enough time with family, friends, and interests.

      Partly thanks to the pandemic, the amount spent with family has been running 50% – 70% greater than normal for 18 months now. Therefore, no regrets!

  6. Love the article, Sam. I always get a kick out of reading the comments too.

    I am a young blood, just finishing grad school, and recently returned to working from home after an in-the-office internship. Unfortunately, I’ve pigeonholed myself in an industry that doesn’t seem keen on allowing staff to work from home (the energy industry and I am a geoscientist). Currently, it looks like WFH options are limited in my future. However, I genuinely love the rocks I study and the work I do. I’ve also managed to set myself apart in my age bracket as a hard worker who consistently delivers a great product. So I believe that while it’s a cut-throat industry, I have put in the time to build relationships and a reputation that should yield me full-time employment after school.

    I’ve had an interesting year working from home on my thesis. The extra time allowed me to dive into learning more about personal finances and I’m quite proud of how far I’ve come. I was able to pay down nearly all my student debt while also building an investment portfolio/filling my Roth IRA (Energy internships tend to pay well and I was fortunate to collect a few scholarships as additional income). I genuinely have enjoyed learning about personal finances and am happy enough that it’s making me seriously consider what I want to do after defending my thesis. The energy industry is lucrative, especially as a keen young person. So my current plan is to work in the energy industry for five years or so while building up my finances and then pursue an alternate path.

    I really enjoyed reading your article on creating a blog and monetizing it. I value my privacy so I would want to create something like what you’ve done here. It’s great, your face is not all over it and you can choose who to share your identity with (very batman of you). A while back, I tried to start an Instagram page about personal finance but struggled a bit with imposter syndrome. While I’ve always loved finance, I didn’t do a business degree. I am a scientist who likes rocks (cue jokes) but I would say that my love of research has helped me when learning about personal finances too. My generation gravitates toward social media, so I went with Instagram but it is not my favorite platform. Maybe I need to try fully embracing the blog instead. I also love art and have been working on creating NFT’s too. So we shall see which one becomes my true side hustle, maybe both?

    So to your original question, yes, I will be working very hard over the next few years. I want to continue to build my reputation in my day job but also work to build a side hustle that can contribute to my future family and lifestyle. As you have mentioned in a previous post, working hard young pays off. I’m already seeing it and excited to continue seeing it.

    Keep up the great blogging, I’m so happy I stumbled upon you!

  7. Canadian Reader

    You are convincing yourself to get a job given that conditions are good, and you have the time, and crave normalcy. But seriously, a few things have been overlooked. At first, you might like whatever job because you will be on a learning curve for about 5 minutes, but the bang-head-against-wall outcome will be the same. Coworkers will get on your nerves and you will be stagnant or laid off because you aren’t hungry. Then, the promised lax vacation policy will be reigned in for some important upcoming meeting that you just can’t miss. You will have to pay for parking. Oh, and your wife could have some emergency at home but you won’t be there to help because you’re at work. Eventually you will say F this BS. You already won the game. The cream will always rise to the top.
    Do what another poster suggested and dedicate the time to your longevity. Or trade off the commute with your wife some days. That way each of you can have bonding time alone with the kids and time to yourselves.
    I think about this stuff all the time and feel like I might be missing out on something. It’s scary to not be connected to a job when you’re still young, but the value of your time is most important. Unless the job is going to pay half a million a year forget it.

    1. All negative possibilities indeed. I haven’t convinced myself of anything just yet.

      I’m still trying to encourage my wife to go back to work and test the waters out :) But I think it’s probably best until my daughter goes to preschool as well. So, 1.5 more years!

      It is fun to day dream and imagine what things could be like.

  8. Sam,
    A few things on here really resonated with me:
    1) The meaning of life argument and increase in quitting across the board. I think the pandemic has given workers more bargaining power over employers. Given stagnant wages for much of the populace, this is a welcome change.
    2) Thanks to the pandemic, I’m now making a Bay Area salary as a Product Manager but living in a low cost-of-living red state. I can take lunch breaks and go to the driving range- it’s a dream. It feels like a cheat code given many of my MBA classmates are required to be back in the office with their banks and consultancies, at least some days.

    I know I’m one of the lucky ones, so it’s a good time to be working :)

    1. That’s what I’m talking about! Going golfing during work hours would be sweet! Respond to messages on the phone in between holes.

      Grab a burger or a hot dog with a beer after the 9th hole and still get paid so long as your work is getting done.

      And with background filters for Zoom, how will the employer know you’re on the course with your buddies?

      1. Daniel from

        OMG, stop encouraging me. The messages between holes would be a good tactic though.

  9. I’m definitely not making close to your target salary, but i also dont live in SF. But I’ve definitely benefitted from the more flexible schedule that COVID has allowed. One potential “blindspot” to returing to full-time work could just be work stress /distraction. Atleast for me, I’ll often think about a work issue at times when i’m supposedly not working (when trying to fall asleep for example). But if you’re the type to just compartmentalize and just focus on work during work hours than go for it.

    1. Good point about work stress distraction lingering.

      Perhaps you can do an arbitrage and make a SF Bay Area salary staying right where you are if you look at more opportunities?

      1. Ha – reading some of the comments here made me think about starting to look for bay area jobs that i could do remotely!

  10. I personally definitely have been enjoying the whole WFH situation.

    It gives me much greater autonomy in my work without having a manager literally breathing down my neck and micromanaging me.

    In your post, I think you said 15-20 minutes commute isn’t a huge deal, but for me it’s somewhat of a big deal because I’m super paranoid about wasting time being unproductive. To underwrite a worst case, we’re looking at 40 minutes per day (round trip) times 20 workdays = 800 minutes just sitting in the car every month. That’s almost a whole waking day gone ka-poof. Every month.

    As far as my W2 goes, I’d say it’s gotten harder at the beginning (but that’s because I changed companies right as the pandemic began and the team is bad). Nowadays though, I’d say it’s quite a bit more relaxed as long as you know how to play the whole ‘inflate how long it takes for you to do your job’ thing.

    I will say though, with the pandemic, it makes work politics quite a bit easier to handle.

    1. The trick is to be productive during the drives. When commuting I work on learning different languages. Traffic Jams or slow periods just equate to more lesson time.

  11. I do wonder if your friends work situation is as good as they claim it to be. It makes me think of the question, “how are you doing?” Most of the time people just automatically say “good thanks” without even thinking even if there’s actually a ton of problems and stuff they’re dealing with. It’s like a built in habit to respond that things are good, the avoidance of talking about problems, or something like that.

    In my circle, a lot of my friends are totally spent especially parents. The pandemic has been a huge overhaul for parents with young kids. And so many parents are completely burnt out. Even with schools starting back up again, there’s still a big adjustment and a whole new set of issues and anxieties with Delta, pediatric cases rising, and still waiting for vaccines for children.

    Instead of trying to pile on more work, perhaps you should use more daytime hours for self-care. That way you’re still feeling like you’re doing more than one thing on your trips to school. Maybe exercise at a park near the school, meditate while sipping a late outside a nearby coffee shop, and try to actually get more rest on your sabbatical?

    Self-care as a parent can be really hard if we don’t actually dedicate time to it because there’s always something to do. I myself have a hard time taking time for myself but am slowly trying to take short breaks to meditate or actually take time to do things I should be doing but often skip like eat breakfast.

    Anyway, you’re doing an incredible job Sam and we love reading all of your work. Thank you!

  12. Hi Sam. Long time reader here. I recently took a new role during the pandemic, becoming fully remote (even when my company goes back to office) and achieving a 44% all-in compensation increase. I work as a data analytics manager at a small bank in San Francisco but live on the East Coast.

    In regards to your question, work/life balance has been better since I’ve gone full-remote. I am able to do the things you mentioned, like run errands during the middle of the day or go for a run in the mid-morning. It does still feel like I don’t have the freedom I’m looking for though. For instance, I must appear online for the majority of the day and I’m still working 50+ hours per week. Work hours have blended with personal life (i.e. sign on after dinner to check emails or finish a project). In addition, I believe that most companies monitor where their employees work by monitoring their VPN connection. Therefore, I can technically only work from a location that’s been approved by my employer.

    An ideal scenario would be to have the autonomy to work literally anywhere. For instance, work out of my RV and travel anywhere in the country. That would be optimal for a work-from-home job. Obviously, the truly optimal scenario would be not working at all and collecting passive income and/or running a business.

    1. Congrats on your big 44% pay bump! What do you attribute the increase to? And does the increase make you happier to work 50+ hours a week?

      Am I naive to think I can always be online/connected to the VPN with my mobile phone? I’m kinda outta the loop here as to how employers track employee activity since it’s been so long.

      My thinking for you is: Why not work, collective passive income through investing, and run a business as well? Or is it simply not enough energy and time in the day to do it?

      I’m not sure anybody I’ve talked to in person is working more than 40 hours a week. And it sure seems like being able to blend work/life makes life easier e.g. respond to some work e-mails while watching a baseball game.

      1. Thank you! The increase was primarily due to me rebranding from an accountant to an accountant that is an analytics/automation expert. I taught myself these skills. My background was very attractive to my current employer so they were willing to pay a premium. And I’m sure the hiring boom/inflation helped too, ha.

        The 50+ hours is time spent on the computer but not necessarily working. If you quantify the time I’m doing actual work, it’s probably closer to 20-25 hours. I’m often on the computer and simultaneously doing other things, but I still have the computer tied to me. I was working about the same in my old role but making 44% less. So yes, the pay bump is making me happier compared to my old role and is improving my finances at a faster rate. Overall, I’d say I’m happy with the way things are going, but I do have that entrepreneurial itch.

        You can tether to a cell phone and connect to VPN but I don’t think the internet is fast enough for working. I’m not exactly sure how working in multiple locations would work with my employer but there’s likely a little red tape.

        I think you’re right on continuing to work while building passive income and/or running a business. My 9-5 role is actually engaging and pays well with a good work/life balance so why not ride it out? My challenge is increasing my savings rate (I have expensive hobbies, like to travel, and don’t want to wait for retirement for some of these experiences) and thinking of a good business to start. But I think I’ll get there soon enough.

        1. The magical saving rate is 50%. Once you get there, the money starts to really compound. In 10 years from when you start saving at 50%, you will likely be able to really take things down a notch.

  13. Sam, thanks for the article.

    I am however slightly confused why you’re trying to un-retire. Seems like you are pretty successful with FS and your real estate portfolio. Maybe a better plan would be to make the move to Hawaii (which you touched on in your podcast with Paychecks and Balances) and build your network there. I think once you get there you’ll have more things to do. Just my 2 cents.

    1. Hi Tom,

      I actually don’t consider myself retired at all. I’m busy writing posts, responding to FS-related e-mails and comments, and fielding a barrage of business inquiries every day. My hope is to re-retire sometime in 2022 when there is better herd immunity and before any tax increases.

      But before I go back to retirement mode, I want to make sure that I’m not missing anything. And missing out by not participating 100% in this massive bull run is making me question retirement.

      Therefore, I’d love to hear from you how your work life has improved, if at all, since the pandemic began.


      PS: I wrote The Dark Side Of Early Retirement a year or so before I left work to help me recognize blindspots as well.

      1. Personally, my work life as an engineer has not changed at all. My workplace previously had no telework policy. Since the outbreak, they now allow one telework day a week. However, I have not taken any telework days because I live across the street from work, and also my work computer is a tower PC which would be too much of a hassle to take to and from work. I asked for a laptop, but I am out of luck since everyone wants one to telework with. Also, I thought showing up every day would earn me brownie points (which you touched on in previous post(s).) Nothing has changed with regards to flexible hours either; hours were somewhat flexible already pre-pandemic.

        Now they are proposing testing people for COVID twice a week. I’m not sure if I can tolerate sticking a cotton swab up my nose twice a week, so I may either ask for extended leave until this blows over, or I may even quit. My ideal job would be full time telework so I never have to deal with mask / testing / vaccination ever again.

  14. I love your planned schedule for going back to work, but I wonder if the one blind spot you might have is mental fatigue.

    I have 5 kids, worked in an office for 13 years and have been a full-time freelancer at home for 11. I’m also a huge fan of time blocking. However, I have found that what I write on paper doesn’t always work out in real life. Meetings run long, tasks take longer than expected, etc. But for my kids, the biggest issue is that I am often drained after work. I just want to unwind and recharge, and it’s hard to be present and focused on them even if I did cross everything off my to-do list.

    Not saying this to be negative or discouraging. This could be something I struggle with and other parents do not, but I wanted to throw it out as food for thought.

    1. I totally hear you Mary. I’m tired with just two kids. With 5 kids, I don’t know how I’d function. And I’m already always tired now, so not sure things would be any different if I go back to work. I enjoy interacting with people, so perhaps it might be re-energizing.

      Let’s put it this way, if you only had 2 kids, wouldn’t that be a walk in the park compared to 5? And put it another way, if you can make things happen with 5, I should be able to make things happen with 2!

  15. I think it’s less about the employer specifically and more about the type of job you have. If your job is results oriented versus process oriented, you will have more flexibility once you have enough of an understanding to know how to get the things done you need to get done. Sales would be an example, happens to be my career. My boss cares about the number, and as long as the number is fine there is very limited inspection. The downside of results oriented work is, at least in my case, you are always on. If the client needs something on Saturday you do it. If someone in India needs something late you do it. The laptop is always on vacation with me. But overall the work life balance is good – I make every soccer game and practice. I can get my chores done in between meetings during the week. I can do 85% of my work from my phone. The key is to make sure you are working on things that get you paid, or else that all goes away. Qualification is critical.

    1. I think you’re right. And if you join a company with a good product, sales is easy if everybody wants it!

      Here’s the thing I discovered when I did some PT consulting working in 2014-2015. Work is much more enjoyable and much easier if you DON’T have to work. There may be targets to achieve, but you won’t stress about it if you have enough passive income to cover your living expenses or if your investment returns are great.

      Sounds like your work life has improved since the pandemic began yeah?

      1. I’d say sales is never easy, but you can, if you do the right things for long enough, come to a place where it seems easy.

        My work/life balance was always pretty good, I’d say the last year that has improved as I no longer have to commute, no pointless “show your face” meetings, no low return meet and greets to attend. It was tough when the kids were remote learning. That was a sh*t show for a while. Better now that they are back in school. 2021 is shaping up to be my best year ever, even though I am working less hours. Funny how that works.

        We are FI, so working is much easier. You can just say no to things you don’t want to do. I’m fortunate to be in a 100% commission gig, so there was never much management oversight. It’s literally all upside. But it still occupies too much of my brain, something I’ve been working on (truly shutting it off outside of work hours). Easier said than done. The pandemic has been good for that, plenty of other things to think about!

        1. We are FI, so why not RE yet? It’s proving to be tougher than I thought to let go. My gig is on autopilot and the money is good. It’s still interesting and I only work with clients I like. With the pandemic, I can’t really travel like I’d want to, so just taking advantage of mid week snowboarding, golfing and hiking while the kids are in school. Our passive investments aren’t bigger than our income, but our spending is less than both. Will be sub 3% SWR soon, we are very fortunate to have gotten here. It’s interesting, that always thought I would just quit, but I keep finding reasons not too. I think once we go back into the office this might accelerate, but for now it’s easy money so why not continue to bank it? Weird and blessed place to be.

  16. Long time reader here, Sam. First time poster. Thank you for all of the phenomenal work that you do – reading this blog will have me retiring at least 10 years earlier than planned. I also really appreciate your abundance mentality and emphasis on earning as well as saving, as well as your constructive and positive approach in the comments section. I’ve learned so much from you. My wife and I were actually in San Francisco doing an ophthalmology course out there, and so there’s a decent chance that we rubbed shoulders with your boy’s ophthalmologist! Small world.

    To answer your question, absolutely, covid has made my life as a physician far easier. I was fortunate to be in a center that was less affected by covid. My income probably went up at least 30% due to covid, from all of the telemedicine initiatives. The beauty of telemedicine is that it is so much more efficient, and also allows issues that would otherwise be all covered in a single visit to be split up into multiple visits. Patients are also extremely appreciative, even more so than usual, and this makes the work doubly rewarding. As a physician I have total autonomy and so thankfully no politics or bosses to please.

    Covid also resulted in numerous benefits to inpatient work. Previously annoying family members that would constantly be at the bedside were no longer permitted to visit due to infection control measures. Many of the more chronic patients that didn’t really need to be in hospital were similarly discharged, resulting in more manageable patient load. And finally, a fairly openly known joke in healthcare is to “blame covid” on the myriad of administrative screw-ups in hospital.

    I certainly have sympathy for colleagues working in centers that were totally overrun with covid and all of the burdens that went with it. But in my small slice of the universe, covid was just what the doctor ordered.

  17. I’ve turned down 2 job offers this year and quit a 3rd job the first week due to the nasty commute. I also pulled out of the interview process for a 4th job that I would have clearly been offered and 5th last week that might have been. Of these 5 jobs, I only applied for one of them – for the rest I was contacted by recruiters.

    I’m in my early 50s, and my earnings peaked about 5 years ago. I’m under no illusion – they will not be coming back. I was making mid-six figures all in from salary+bonus+equity. Thanks to some mistakes I made in my career path and the scarcity of jobs paying that well in my area, I’m not a serious candidate anymore for jobs in that price range. The most I’ve been offered this year is about 45% of what I made 5 years ago.

    I wouldn’t mind the lower cash earnings potential if there was some serious equity upside. But alas, I don’t live in the Bay Area where IPOs are plentiful. Public companies in general are scarce where I live. I know of 2 companies in my area right now that are prepping for IPOs, and I interviewed with both. One that I thought my skills were a great fit for turned me down cold. The other made me a low-ball offer with NO pre-IPO equity.

    At the same time, my net worth has more than doubled since I left my peak earnings job 5 years ago. I also have young grandkids now that I enjoy spending a lot of time with. So yeah, my motivation is sagging. I’m certainly not going to kill myself working on an IPO with no equity! Meanwhile, I’ve been doing contract (temp) work through a staffing firm most of the year at a similar rate to what the permanent jobs have offered me. I’ve had a lot of flexibility except during quarterly peak times. At this point, it seems more likely that I move on to early retirement than take a full-time permanent job again.

  18. Hi Sam-

    As a pilot, I haven’t been able to enjoy the whole “work from home” COVID lifestyle. I do like how you look at life, though! And your great advice has helped me out a lot over the last year… bought another investment property and jumped into Fundrise! Building up those passive income streams so I can start looking at MY retirement. Would be interested in hearing how “Negotiating my severance” could work in a field like mine. Discuss it over a beer sometime when I’m out in CA?


  19. You have no dedicated time for your wife in your schedule.

    Taking it easy the last year or so? Not if you work in an ICU and surgery.

    And where are these healthcare industry employers that do anything but pay lip service to work-life balance?

    All that being said I love what I do but have dissuaded my daughter from pursuing a healthcare profession because of the options a post like this present that just don’t exist in medicine.


    1. Hi Brian – I like that you’ve brought up time with my wife. Can you share what your hours dedicated with your wife is? I’m open to incorporating more time besides during childcare, weekends, and after 8:30pm. Thx!

      1. We don’t have a set amount of time but we do have a priority that we do something together daily, just us, whether it is pulling weeds in the garden, going on a walk or going to a show. It took me years to realize that my job or the military won’t be there forever but I’d like to think my spouse will be. It was just a re- prioritization on my part and I see a lot of people who are so focused on other things lose sight of their partner’s worth.
        For instance, today’s time together consisted of putting trusses up in a barn I built for a new loft and drinking iced tea and sitting on a stump talking about our days. Not necessarily Romantic but just the time together is invaluable.
        If I can achieve at a high level at other things, I can achieve in my marriage. My comment wasn’t to be accusatory toward you.


        1. No problem. I’m used to people judging my lifestyle or desired lifestyle if I put it out there, so no worries. I want people to point out blindspots in my proposals.

          What you say about spending time with your significant other is true.

          I have the perfect challenge for you: try to both retire early in forsake the money. Assuming one or both of you still have day jobs.

          My wife was able to negotiate a severance in early 2015 to join me in “early retirement.” Since then, we’ve spent a tremendous amount of time together traveling and going on various adventures.

          The time together has been invaluable indeed, especially during the last 18 months.

          Related: Make Your Spouse Financially Independent

    2. Amen to this! As a healthcare worker, all the management does is give you cheap trinkets-a coffee mug with the name of the hospital-or an occasional free meal. They tell us how valuable we are, but don’t sure don’t compensate like they mean that. I always told my kids, don’t go in to healthcare unless you are a doctor. Doctors get all the glory. Thankfully, neither of my kids pursued healthcare.

  20. So I assume in your ideal work day schedule, your 8:30 pm onwards – freedom to do whatever is time you speak to your wife?

    1. Correct. No talking to each other or texting until after 8:30 pm, even while both spending time with children. It is a way to rejuvenate our love.

      How about you? How has work been like during the pandemic?

  21. Getting a job also means W2 income which is very difficult to shelter from income taxes.
    But I agree that a lot has changed since 2012 and the focus on employee well being and flexibility is at an all time high at my company.
    Still, working a job can feel like a waste of your time if you have other plentiful sources of income. It will probably not be super fulfilling but you can always quit after some time.
    Personally, I would rescue an animal (or a bunch of them) instead of filling up my schedule with zoom meetings.

  22. That sounds like an intriguing work schedule. And it should be feasible, so much has changed. I do share your concern that people might be exaggerating how well that works. But if it did? Would be a sweet deal. Personally I don’t think I’ll ever go back to paid work, and will just keep volunteering. But if I could put together something like that it would be worth considering.

    1. Long time reader here, Sam. First time poster. Thank you for all of the phenomenal work that you do – reading this blog will have me retiring at least 10 years earlier than planned. I also really appreciate your abundance mentality and emphasis on earning as well as saving, as well as your constructive and positive approach in the comments section. I’ve learned so much from you. My wife and I were actually in San Francisco doing an ophthalmology course out there, and so there’s a decent chance that we rubbed shoulders with your boy’s ophthalmologist! Small world.

      To answer your question, absolutely, covid has made my life as a physician far easier. I was fortunate to be in a center that was less affected by covid. My income probably went up at least 30% due to covid, from all of the telemedicine initiatives. The beauty of telemedicine is that it is so much more efficient, and also allows issues that would otherwise be all covered in a single visit to be split up into multiple visits. Patients are also extremely appreciative, even more so than usual, and this makes the work doubly rewarding. As a physician I have total autonomy and so thankfully no politics or bosses to please.

      Covid also resulted in numerous benefits to inpatient work. Previously annoying family members that would constantly be at the bedside were no longer permitted to visit due to infection control measures. Many of the more chronic patients that didn’t really need to be in hospital were similarly discharged, resulting in more manageable patient load. And finally, a fairly openly known joke in healthcare is to “blame covid” on the myriad of administrative screw-ups in hospital.

      I certainly have sympathy for colleagues working in centers that were totally overrun with covid and all of the burdens that went with it. But in my small slice of the universe, covid was just what the doctor ordered.

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