“Just got off a call from our accountant. My industry has had its ups and downs over the past couple of years. My pay has fluctuated.So why exactly do we work any way? The government has decided they can spend our money far better than we can...
My husband and I are “typical middle class Americans”. We both have master’s degrees and are relatively successful in our careers. We are both salaried employees and work long hours, averaging 55‐60 hr/wk in a good week. We have 2 kids, a dog, 2 cars and a white picket fence. We live within our means, save in our 401K, donate to our favorite charities and go on vacation once a year. Nothing exciting, nothing fancy, we are just a “living the American Dream”. To be clear, we are by no means, what Obama would refer to as “the rich”. Though, we would certainly like to be one day!
So back to the call from the accountant. Along with everyone else, 2009 was a very rough year and I took a substantial pay cut. But, what are you going to do? My choice was to lose my job or take a paycut. We live within our means, so we just tightened our belt a little bit, took a deep breath and moved on. This situation is not unique, many other Americans made the same choice.
This year, 2010, my industry appeared to be doing better. The company reinstated our salaries and, it looked like I may even get a bonus. Plus, I received a promotion. My base salary increased 33% from last year, including the reinstatement of our pay cuts. Sounds great, right? Well, the accountant called to inform us that we crossed some sort of threshold and due to AMT, the additional taxes we have to pay this year will take 40‐50% of the 33% increase! Additionally, if I get my bonus, we will cross another dreaded line and the percentage they take is even greater!
So, here I sit, at age 41, very seriously considering whether working is really worth it? I could continue to work and I would continue to get promoted. But, with each promotion, I work more hours and travel more. In my industry, as with most, the higher up you move on the corporate ladder, the more you work. The salary increases along way justify the loss in “family/personal time”.
The American Dream is to be successful. The old saying goes, “You can never be too rich or too thin”! But, with each extra dollar I earn, the government is going to take 50% (or more) of it. Is it really worth it? Come on, I’m never going to be a millionaire. For me, having more money means being able to go on a “flying” vacation as opposed to driving to Florida to visit my folks. It means going out to eat at someplace nicer than Chili’s once a week, buying slightly nicer clothes and maybe a new car every 5 years or so. We aren’t buying a second home in the Hampton’s.
Realistically, I could choose not to pay my mortgage and live in my house for at least a year (more if I can get creative about it). I live in a state where I can actually quit my job AND collect unemployment for 2 full years. Here is the math. If I collect unemployment and my husband stays employed, we can continue to live “fine”. We’ll be paycheck to paycheck and won’t have any disposable income but I would have oodles of time. I could volunteer at the kid’s school, scrapbook, exercise every day and watch Oprah.
When people like me seriously question whether or not to work, there is something very very wrong with our tax system.”
Monday, October 04, 2010
Here's a great story about why should we work? There's really no incentive when you make beyond a certain point. Via Points & Figures.