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Sunday, August 9, 2009

A New Job at 80% LESS than previous salary!!

One result of the recent economic woes was that I, a frugal teacher whose financial prowess heretofore consisted mainly in being a black belt grocery shopper, began to read the on-line Wall Street Journal. The news there was so dispiriting, and often beyond my intellectual ken, that I migrated over to the Lifestyle section, where I read news on books, food, and fashion.

One feature that melded Lifestyle and Economics is a series of blog posts by the unemployed: bankers, analysts, CFOs, and the more junior incarnations of the business class. The posts were often a mix of self-pity and pugnaciousness. Shining through many was a sense of entitlement: I WORKED HARD and got an MBA. NOT FAIR!

Anyway, I checked back yesterday post-vacation and discovered that about half of the bloggers were now employed! One fellow, whose name is Spencer Cutter, was laid-off from the late Lehman Brothers in spring 2008 (in other words, before it was late). During his job search, he took care of his toddler son, while his wife remained emplyed in the luxury retail business. Guess what? Mr. C. just got a job. Only it's at 80% less than his previous job.

Let's compute. OK. I know I have a pitiful salary, though it is above the U.S median. 80% off and I would be earning less than a part-time baby-sitter. It occurs to me that when Mr. C takes an 80% pay cut, he's still earning a lot more than I am. Maybe even twice as much? Maybe more?

So while the percents are shocking, the % off method with salaries may be as misleading as in retail. If you get a designer tee shirt at 80% off its original price, you may still be paying a ridiculous $60.00 for a simple tee. The fact that Mr. C remains in the affluent class at 80% off suggests that Wall Street salaries may be as inflated as designer duds. In fact, if I've learned anything from the various lifestyle portraits of the former and current Masters of the Universe*, it's that the financial world is a parallel universe. I can't even imagine what these Masters think of people like me. Or if they think of me at all.

* Masters of the Universe: from Tom Wolfe's prescient Bonfire of the Vanities.


Duchesse said...

No, they don't think about you (or me). Why would they?

Did the WSJ article provide his current salary?

The compensation for finance jobs draws people who love money, and can take the stress (which people in other fields downplay). I've known and worked with plenty of them for 25 years. Realize I'm generalizing here, but I'd call them smart, driven and focused. Highly developed analytical skills. Capacity to work very hard and long under pressure.

In terms of character, I've met every type from those who take a year off the trading desk to volunteer in a developing country to absolute psychopaths.

Duchesse said...

Just wanted to (also) say I'm glad you're back, and grateful you are not working so much, which leaves you time to write! I look forward to reading your thoughts, your updates about your family and frugal-tinged tips! Thank you again for your blog!

Over the Cubicle Wall said...

I try to live on about 15% of my current salary, so - hooray for frugality! - I would still be able to save.

Funny about Money said...

Eighty percent less than a zillion bucks is still a zillion bucks. From my perspective, it's like 80 percent less than infinity! :-D

I doubt if these folk think of much else but themselves and the politics of their jobs.

Suzy said...

wow before I even got to your 'let's computer' paragraph I was already reaching for the calculator(at work so it's handy!) and thinking 80% of what? half a mil? I wouldn't mind living on 80% of some of these people's salaries!

wow over the cubicle! 15%?! couldn't do that...

Frugal Scholar said...

@Duchesse--Oh thank you. I am blushing. When I was away I had only one of those touch pads--I could hardly type. Hence no posts. No comments.

Frugal Scholar said...

@Cubicle--You are so impressive! And I know from your blog that you are not living a hairshirt existence either.

Frugal Scholar said...

@Funny and Suzy--I think the article was a bit coy in not giving the actual numbers.