Hello everybody, welcome to episode 111 of Optimal Living Advice, the podcast where we take any questions you might have about the many struggles of life and get them answered for you here on the show. I’m your host, certified life coach Greg Audino and today I’m bringing you another long question related to family and money, but a question I’m really, really excited about answering, as I think it accurately reflects what a lot of families are facing these days, particular fathers. So listen carefully and follow along. Here it goes…
QUESTION: “The job I’m in right now was presented as a dream job, but It turned out quite rapidly that the reality was absolutely the opposite of what I was thinking it would be. Yet the salary is better and it helps maintain a better life for my family.
Over the last 5 years, the situation has only gotten worse. I’ve come to the point I cannot sleep and wake up in the night terrified I had to go to work again. When Friday comes, I am not happy because the weekend is coming, I am depressed because Monday is approaching. Staying here is definitively not an option, but because of the specifics of my profession, I cannot find a new job easily and in general the salaries in my country are far from good.
I’ve started sending applications to International organisations – the salary is better, the professional opportunities are great, you travel a lot, and you work with people of different origins. You could fix all your financial problems and secure a brighter future for your family. It IS really good, and I know from experience because I had the chance to work it for 2 years in the past.
The big downside is that you spend a lot of time away from your family, and during the harsh times with my current job I became really attached to them and they were my only source of hope. Now, after many unsuccessful efforts I am quite close to getting a position, but I am really frightened that by accepting this I would commit another mistake – disrupting my family.
Should I embrace the new opportunities, or should I neglect my profession and start looking for an average paid job here, but for the price of being with my beloved ones everyday?”
Work, Family, and Money Concerns
All right, this sounds like a very tough situation to be in, and I’m glad you came to us. Thanks so much for sending this; it’s a privilege to try to be of some assistance to you.
I think there are a lot of factors here that need to be taken into consideration; it’s not exactly a question that can just be solved right off the bat.
So first of all, you’re on the right track in that you’re not falling victim to money by just assuming that making as much of it as possible fulfills the role you play as a father and a husband (if you are a husband).
A lot of families fall apart when this happens. You clearly love your family and providing for them – you referenced it several times and it seems to be the basis for all your decision making, which is terrific.
It’s awesome that you’ve identified that as a key value, so let’s work off of that when figuring this situation out.
Talk to Your Spouse
With that being said, I want to begin by reminding you that this is definitely a decision you come to with your family as much as it makes sense to be.
If you’re married, talk extensively to your spouse about the pros and cons as you have with me. Depending on how old your kids are, you can involve them in the conversation too. The older they are, the better they’ll be able to understand the intricacies and sacrifices involved, but even if they’re young, you can provide an age-appropriate description of the predicament.
Even if they can’t understand it fully, they’ll appreciate and learn from this very open conversation about something that involves them.
There’s no need to cheat children of dealing with tough subject matter, and children involved in any question like this really must be looked after.
Balancing the Equation
Now speaking of the ages of your kids and whether or not you have a spouse, the next thing I want to bring to your attention is that, like any layered problem, the answer basically comes down to an equation.
What I mean by that is that there are A LOT of variables here that all mean different things to you, and based on the amount of meaning they each have, you can almost calculate an answer. Let’s look at a few of your variables:
If you have a spouse, how much money are they making? How old are your children and do they need your financial support for another 15 years or another 3 years?
Might another child be on the way? How much money are you currently spending or do you have to pay off, and what amount of income is necessary for that to be upheld, not met, or exceeded?
Obviously there are more variables involved that you know of and I don’t, but ultimately, the end result of your equation should meet your value that you’ve already established – which is to provide your family with love, time, and money in that order. The order is important.
Love, Time, and Money
Luckily, love, the most important of the three, isn’t quite as calculable as time and money. But you and your family are both likely to feel more love is time which is prioritized over money.
I’ve said it before though; we’re here to be practical, and that doesn’t mean overlooking money entirely. It’s still important. But if it’s not as important as love and time, then to me, I’m saying that money need to take precedent only until the base needs are met. In other words, make enough money to provide the necessities like food, shelter, clothing and emergency savings to your family, then it can get nudged back into third place.
Mind you, all of these things can be flexed on, too. You can get a smaller house. You can get a cheaper car. You can spend less on unnecessary things, etc.
So really it’s coming down to what the base level of money would be for your family to have its base needs met.
That will be different if your spouse is making six figures versus if they’re not working. It will be different if your kids are moving out next year versus if they’re toddlers.
Those are the things to take into consideration when coming up with a base number for what it will cost to keep your family taken care of in a basic way.
Love in Time vs. Material Things
This might sound simple, but it’s hard to keep hold of sometimes, especially for men.
Men are naturally pressured to be the financial providers with their families, and especially in generations past, men see this as how they express their love.
So what can happen is if we feel as though financial support is how we relay love, those who want to show extra love work hard to earn extra money – mistakenly thinking that it is more valuable than time.
But rest assured, down the road, both you and your kids will feel the most love in time spent rather than in the luxurious, material things.
Bettering Your Relationship with Your Family
So to me, I feel there needs to be a stopping point. It’s ok to earn extra to keep your family extra comfortable (after all, that’s how great bonding experiences like vacations are paid for) but money made beyond what covers needs is not as valuable as time that can be spent with them.
Again, it all goes back to the equation. If you can provide basic needs for your family with an average paying job, do it and then prioritize time. If they really need money from a higher paying job with an international organization based on all the components of your equation, then explain to them why it’s necessary for you take that job, and work there until you’re in a financially secure enough position to restructure that job or take a new job that grants you more time with your loved ones.
Last but not least, I want to address something that you said about how in these dark days, you’ve leaned on your family for hope. Given what you’ve been through at work, this is normal and it makes sense that you’ve sort of lost yourself and relied a lot on them. That’s what family is for.
But going forward, you’ll have to be either happy enough with your work or confident enough with your decision that you regain some self-worth and provide your own source of hope. Again, that means balancing what’s best for you and your family based on the numbers I hope you choose to crunch after listening to this episode.
By bettering your relationship with yourself in that way, you’ll better your relationship with your family.
To the man who sent this in, thank you so very much. This is an issue that is sweeping across families in the time we’re living in, and for you to bring it to us and mindfully approach it is something that I’m grateful for, and I’m sure your family will be, as well. It was a pleasure today.
Everybody, you know what to do. If you have a question of your own you’d like our help with, please email it to us at advice AT oldpodcast DOT com
Send your questions there, and we’ll give you some support and guidance as best we can. That does it for today, though. I appreciate you all being here, and I’ll see you in the next one.