Why I’m thrilled to be taking a 10% pay cut in 2014

Plane at sunsetNext year I will be taking a 10% pay cut as compared to this year, and I couldn’t be happier. Okay, so a little bit of context might be appropriate. This winter I will be taking a 5-week unpaid leave of absence from work, and with 52 weeks a year, that’s about a tenth of my salary. And why am I doing this you may ask? I am going traveling again! And I can’t wait.

This idea has been in the making for some time now, since I talked about taking mini-retirements back in early November. My manager has green-lighted this plan and I’ve booked flights to Lima, Peru, leaving January 26th, 2014.

Machu Picchu, Peru

Machu Picchu, Peru

The reason that this makes me so happy (other than the anticipation and planning of a trip!) is that this means that my employer and my manager are being flexible and accommodating. I know how lucky I am to be able to take extended leave from work to go traveling, and the fact that my manager is on board with this is very exciting. Most people can’t just suggest to their boss that they take off for the winter and get a quick and easy approval!

On that note, B is one of those people. He can’t take that kind of time off from work, and didn’t even really look into it. He has ongoing projects that need his attention, and therefore I am leaving B at home.

Don't Leave Me

Please don’t leave me!

But I found myself another travel buddy: my dad! My dad recently retired and generally goes south for the winter (we call them snowbirds). This year he thought he might want to try something different so he’s joining me on my South American adventure. We’ve traveled together on short vacations before but my dad has never really been on a backpacking travel adventure. This may be the last chance we get to travel together like this! Life seems to get in the way sometimes.

We are thinking of going through Peru, Bolivia and northern Chile, so if anyone has any recommendations, let me know! I’d love to hear from you if you’ve traveled through South America.

Financially, this will set me back a fair amount but with my saving habits throughout the year I’m sure I can make it work. This means that I’m giving up 5 weeks of income, plus the cost of the trip. I haven’t budgeted out what the trip is going to cost me yet, but I’m hoping to keep it within the $4000-$5000 range. I’ll also need to cover my expenses back home, which is not something I’ve really had to do on prior trips.

Career-wise, I don’t think this will really affect my progression, or at least not negatively. Winter is the slow time for my department and they are having a hard time keeping everyone busy as it is. This way my manager has fewer employees to spread the work to and I will come back recharged and ready to work. Win-win!

Anyway, just thought I’d share my news with you, I’m sure I’ll elaborate more on this as plans progress!

Would you take a pay cut for a chance to pursue a passion? How long would you go without any income?



14 Comments on Why I’m thrilled to be taking a 10% pay cut in 2014

  1. Done by Forty
    December 19, 2013 at 8:20 AM (8 months ago)

    What an adventure you’ll have. I blogged a while back about our trip to Lima and Cuenca…maybe you can find something of use in there. I’m so excited for you! I may end up doing something similar (taking a leave) if I can’t figure out how to work down in Peru legally in the spring. Or, maybe not.

    My boss did offer a leave of sorts, but I’m on the fence as to whether to take unpaid leave. We’re really trying to sprint to FI so I’m not sure whether I’d want to miss out on the pay, company 401k match, etc. Maybe that makes me greedy? :)

    • ThisLifeOnPurpose
      December 19, 2013 at 9:21 AM (8 months ago)

      I’ve read some of your posts on Peru, but I might have to go back and re-read some of your content for some tips. :)

      And I don’t think that makes you greedy, when you are tracking your financial goals and working towards reaching financial independence it can be even harder to accept a set-back. Traveling is definitely a harder financial hit now that I’m working and I consider the loss of income and employer retirement contributions. I had never really looked at it that way as a student!

  2. Mel
    December 19, 2013 at 9:09 AM (8 months ago)

    That’s the best reason to take a pay cut! I went to Peru two years ago and it was an awesome trip! I assume you’ll definitely check out Machu Piccu, but you should also plan to hike the mountain next to in Wayna Piccu (I may have butchered that spelling). I think it costs like $10 and you may have to book ahead of going, because they only let a certain number of people up the mountain, but the pictures from the top of it are that iconic Machu Piccu picture. And I felt like queen of the world when I conquered that mountain. The next day you should check out the hot springs in Aguas Caliente – it’s what the city is named for and they felt great after traipsing all over the mountain the day before. If I recall correctly, they were pretty reasonable too. And if you’re adventurous with your eating, you have to try a guinea pig. They serve it with the head on.

    • ThisLifeOnPurpose
      December 19, 2013 at 9:24 AM (8 months ago)

      Thanks for the tips Mel! I’ll definitely have to check out Wayna Picchu, since we won’t be hiking the Inca trail (it’s closed for maintenance in February). And those hot springs sound amazing!

      I’m not sure about eating a guinea pig with his head on haha, but we’ll see how adventurous I am feeling!

  3. anna
    December 19, 2013 at 9:46 AM (8 months ago)

    So excited for you, and what an amazing travel buddy!! No doubt you’ll create fond and amazing memories during this adventure with your dad. Chile is one country we’ll be visiting in 2014, so I can’t wait to read about your trip, as well as the planning process. :)

    • ThisLifeOnPurpose
      December 19, 2013 at 10:56 AM (8 months ago)

      Thanks! I’m sure I will be writing about this a lot, since it’s easy to write about something you are passionate about!

  4. sonik
    December 19, 2013 at 4:39 PM (8 months ago)

    Since you are not doing the hike to Machu Picchu, it will expensive to go via bus/train to Aguas Calientes, which is what I did. There are cheaper ways to see MP, by going half way and doing a half hike. Lots of people in my hostel did that, and they stayed over night in Aguas (which is very expensive even for 1 night but with their tour it was a bit cheaper). I booked the 2 days 1 night trip with my hostel, at $200, which included mini bus half way to Ollyamtanbu (sp?), then train to Aguas, 1 night in a private but basic room, entrance to MP (get there as early as you can to avoid the crowds) and transport back. It was worth every penny without the stress or fatigue of a hike (in my opinion).

    Also, the only must see in Bolivia is the salt flats. Its quite underdeveloped there and I don’t recommend taking buses to places around, there aren’t many nice tourist buses that you get in SE Asia. There are a few places you can see, but I wouldn’t spend much time there in my opinion. Spend more time in Peru as there more to see and its more developed.

    For Salt Flats, be careful who you book with as there as been reports of drunk drivers. I cant remember who I booked with but they were ok, food could have been better. I heard Tupeza tours were much better, and looking at the food they served to the other groups, its proved they were. Bolivia is very cheap and Peru isn’t too bad, but getting a taxi in Peru you have to haggle as there’s no meters, and being white, they will rip you off (even with me, having olive skin). Take advice from your hostel/hotel as to what price to aim for and stick to that, which is what I did.

    You can take a salt flat tour from Bolivia and finish in San Pedro, Chile. Worth staying in San Pedro for a few nights, as there’s a mini salt flats tour there and watching the stars at night tour (cant remember the name now). I didn’t see much of Chile in my trip, but Valpraso(spelling) is a place worth seeing as I been told, and I assume you will finish in Santiago? there’s not much there so I wouldn’t spend more than a few days there.
    Hope this helps, you can read my blog or ask anything else if you have any questions.
    Have a great time.

    • ThisLifeOnPurpose
      December 19, 2013 at 5:02 PM (8 months ago)

      Thanks Sonik! Some very good and relevant info :) I’ll be sure to send you a message if I have any specific questions.

      • sonik
        December 23, 2013 at 4:06 PM (8 months ago)

        Welcome. I also recommend an amazon trip either in Peru or Bolivia. I did mine in Manu Park, at the amazon basin, in south of Peru but the weather wasn’t very good when I went and this stopped us from seeing the parrots feed off the clay click (so gutted about that!). Overall, we didn’t see much wildlife either, its a trip that hit or miss, and to be sue that you will see wildlife you’d have to go quite deep into the park and spend more time there. This is the cheapest option in Peru, otherwise an expensive flight to Iquitos and then a trip there will set you back a few hundred $$$. Or a long bus ride into Maldonado (or expensive flight) is possible but then the cost of the tour will add up so expensive.
        But I heard there side trip from La Paz, Bolivia is worth doing as it give you a taste of the amazon, since its cheaper as its Bolivia, rather than spending the night or two at a very basic lodge, with no hot water or electric (which is what I did). But if you did stay in a lodge, honestly its not that bad despite the lack of elect/water, it was quite clean and the food we had was very good, made by our cook, so it depends on who you book with. I would go with tours that dont use hot water in their lodges because I heard this is not good for the environment and wildlife, in fact cold water can be blessing if you’ve hiked all day and you’re hot and sweaty!
        Anything you want to know give us a shout and enjoy!

  5. Charles
    December 21, 2013 at 5:16 AM (8 months ago)

    That’s a great way to drop 10% to go on a great trip. Look forward to reading more about it.

  6. Jay@MoneyBulldog
    December 23, 2013 at 4:37 AM (8 months ago)

    One thing I’ve learned is that you must not base your job with the money first because you’ll most often end up not appreciating the money and drown in unhappiness. So yeah, if you have to take a pay cut to land a job where you can be contented and happy then I think that’s the best thing to do because money isn’t happiness.

    • ThisLifeOnPurpose
      December 23, 2013 at 10:08 AM (8 months ago)

      100% agreed :)

  7. eemusings
    January 9, 2014 at 2:45 PM (8 months ago)

    That’s super exciting! Haven’t been to S America sadly so no advice from me.

    How much paid leave a year do you get? We get four in NZ so my six month unpaid sabbatical only worked out to five.

    • ThisLifeOnPurpose
      January 9, 2014 at 3:12 PM (8 months ago)

      4 weeks paid is really good. For my company we start at 3 weeks and after 10 years it bumps to 4 weeks, so I’m still a long way off from 4 weeks.

      Although I only have about 1 week of accrued vacation time (you need to accumulate it first, and Christmas used up a bunch of it) so that’s all I will be able to use towards my trip. But I guess if you look at it that way it’s only about an 8% pay cut, sweet!


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