Up the Ladder?

This is a guest post by Dave, who is also looking to retire no later than 45, but unlike Tim has no kids and doesn’t want any. Dave is from Ontario and is working towards his CGA certification.

I have worked for the same company since I graduated from University, 10 years ago. I have been working in my current position for about a year and a half now. Through practical experience as well as increasing my level of education through the Certified General Accountant’s program I have become pretty good at the work I do, and thus (hopefully) at least a moderately valuable employee. I understand that I’m still easily replaceable, especially if I decide to pick a “fight” with someone I shouldn’t either internally or externally (some days I feel like it, but have held back so far).

At some point, an opportunity may arise to be promoted within my company. Considering, due to my seniority, I get almost 5 weeks of vacation, along with an above-average salary (for my experience and education level) it would make sense to me to stay where I’m at rather than switching jobs and moving to a different company. The question comes up as to whether or not I really want to start rising up the “Corporate Ladder”.

Most personal finance sites tell you to maximize your time at work by making as much money as you can with your day. I’m unsure whether I really want the added stress of managing people, or dealing with personnel issues. The job I do right now as an auditor is fairly interesting (to me, my wife finds what I do incredibly dull). I get to travel a couple of times a month around the province, which is enough to be a nice change, but not too much to be a pain. Finally, I could probably do this job for as long as the company I work for continues to exist – it’s not overly stressful or super difficult.

I’m hoping to be done with the full-time workforce at a maximum of 12 years (exactly 4,300 days if anyone’s interested). I really don’t need extra money, I could continue making what I’m making and achieve my financial goals, which provides a bit of disincentive to taking on more responsibility. I think that the only thing that would provide me any change in enjoyment for work would be adding more of a challenge to my day – by adding in jobs or duties I’ve never really done before.

Having a fairly large savings account, along with a spouse who could support our household for a few months if that’s needed is a luxury that allows me to contemplate these kind of questions. I can look at the marginal utility I would get out of my day, rather than wondering if I’m going to be able to afford groceries at the end of the week.

If you have a goal of early retirement, do you have any interest in moving up the corporate ladder on your way to this goal?

10 thoughts on “Up the Ladder?”

  1. Being in charge is not all it’s cracked up to be. My boss gets stuck with all the client complaints, scheduling problems (everyone wants the Easter weekend off but there has to be staff here every day – who does he disapoint/anger and still be fair?), internal squables and the continual challenges to do more with less budget.

    If you are happy and can meet your financial goals then stick with a job you love. Being happy every day while you do work is just as important as making money to retire early.

  2. I am almost at the end of my ER journey, so I’m just going to stick it out where I am.

    Good luck with whatever you choose to do Dave.

  3. “I really don’t need extra money.”

    This, Dave, was the statement which struck me the most. In the 8th year of my 23-year career, I was promoted to supervisor in my division, a promotion I wanted. My level or responsibility and authority did not increase after that, and I did not really want any more of that.

    Not needing any extra money, especially after I paid off my mortgage, was part of it. Not needing any extra money was also a key reason I switched to working part-time after 16 years of full-time work. Four weeks of vacation was not nearly enough for me. I needed at least 100 days of vacation, even if most were unpaid (from working part-time).

    Had I continued working full-time, I may have been able to retire even earlier than 45 because of my extra salary. However, by simply sticking around and working more years I was able to take advantage of my company’s rapidly rising stock price. And I got rid of the terrible full-time commute although even a part-time commute ended up being too much after a while.

  4. My ER date is 5 years away where I will be 35.

    I used to be very interested in going up the corporate ladder but this changed in the last year. I realized that the added stress of the next position above me is not worth a salary increase of $10-15k. This change in salary won’t significantly affect my ER date and I rather have a higher quality of life in the next 5 years. I really like where I work therefore I’m no longer interested in switching companies for more salary.

  5. There really isn’t a corprate ladder at my workplace. That said I wouldn’t take a job that took me away from what I love (research and interaction with patients). More money isn’t going to make my more happy the 40 hrs a week that I spend at work.

  6. Given what you’ve said, I wouldn’t take a supervisory position. I have always studiously avoided any management responsibilities and am very happy about it.

  7. 5 years or less? Probably not worth the hassle, but be cautious in organizations that have an “up or out” philosophy.

    With 10 years to go, I believe you’ll have to suffer the indignity of training your new supervisor too many times. After all, if you can train your supervisor, then you can likely do their job.

    And, by all means, avoid letting your skills become stale when you still have 2+ years to go unless you truly like being an overlooked cog in the machine.

  8. Oh, I’m interested in just one more step up from where I am. The change in position would let me use and develop some new skill sets, so hence the interest. The money is largely a secondary issue.

    Otherwise, I don’t think I’m interested in going any higher…too little pay for sharp increase in stress.

  9. Nope, not at all anymore. In fact, I downgraded myself from manager to “individual contributor” recently. At the same pay… 😉
    But my time to exit is measured in days (34 work days now), so that’s a major factor. It’s not usually the base pay that’s the big draw to move up, it’s the measure of control you have in what gets done or how it gets done (and the bonus structure). Bottom line is I don’t like authority and being told what to do or how to do it. The only way out of that is through management if you choose to work in a corporate world or to be self-employed (or ER).

  10. 12 years is a long time. I’m looking at a max of 10 total after getting out of school, possibly less if real returns are above 2%. At the total of 10 years where salaries are high without even moving anywhere, caring about corporate structure just isn’t worth it to me.

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