A long post follows. It has no images to break it up and it is... technical. Read no further unless you really really want to know. I only post it because my autism dictates that, as it is written, so shall it be posted.
The job hunt has ended for another year, as the deadline for resignations in the education sector has passed, or is about to pass, with the Easter holidays. Tilly keeps an eye on the posts for me, I have applied to two this year, and there is a drying up in evidence. The plan has always been, as far as she's concerned, for me to get a job in a place that she actually wants to live and then to move there. The complications, as they have stacked up, have generally revolved around two realities about which I can do little:
1. the children - they need money to raise the way we have decided to do it, and to allow Tilly to stay home with them without returning to work - a threat she often pulls out in conversations we have on this issue
2. my existing pay - I am sufficiently senior in education that my wage, around £38,000 a year before tax, is not to be sniffed at, it means a change of stream would be difficult to weather as starting salaries are generally around the £18,000 mark
When Tilly first moved in she noted that I was unhappy in my current employment, my boss at the time (once and future boss) was being a dick. Tilly encouraged me to look elsewhere for employment and cited my anger as one of the things she disliked. We agreed a Five Year Plan whereby I would seek a Head of Department job, hold it for five years and then we would move somewhere she wanted to live and have children. It didn't work out. Within the year I had the Head of Department position and then Tilly and I became parents. The HoD position rapidly became more problematic than either of us had realised it could be. The school I had gone to was in flux, I had to take a teacher through competency proceedings (read: sack them) and the stress levels were generally through the roof. Factor in a fluid management system, which was hard for someone like me, and a long commute and the writing was on the wall.
The FYP in tatters, I applied for approximately thirty jobs. I was interviewed for about ten to twenty of them and got the one back at where I started. Same wage, but not Head of Department, no, Second in Department. This was amended within the year to my current position and we had our second child. Not long after that, Tilly ended up with massive depression and I had to take time off work. In my absence my once and future boss went for the jugular, I don't know why. From my return until he left I was thus bombarded with threats and significant pressure - under which I do not perform well. Tilly began the job search and I began applying again, but at a lower rate than before. When it became clear that my boss was leaving I looked for other ways out.
So it was that I applied for, and got, another post within the school I work for the same extra money as being Second. The original plan was to drop the Second position. Tilly prevailed upon me to keep both as a springboard back to Head of Department in another school. So I kept them. We got used to the extra money coming in and, in the course of the last two years, have come to rely on it a little. Now the school is reorganising and I can't keep both positions. Of course I have proceeded with the original plan, but this is going to hit us pretty hard and Tilly is worried. In the course of my interviews I too have cause for worry as it is rapidly becoming apparent that I am not the corporate image anywhere actually wants. My one strength, and it has always been my strength, is coming from left-field; that is, providing a different tack or approach. But left-field is out of vogue. People want box-tickers and managers of the conventional sense. They want people who fit in suits and who can spout the right jargon in the right places, organisers and jobsworths, people who can talk the talk and walk according to the right forms. People who read books on management and speak of education like others speak of paradigms in finance.
I am not one of those people. I am a scatty professor type. I do not fit. I never have. I am an eccentric in a profession that is seeking to shut down eccentricity in favour of people who can duck-speak double plus good.
I feel that I am something of a dinosaur.
Thus, when Tilly suggests new job opportunities I tend to err on the side of caution, I point out the issues and this is getting to her. "If we never look into anything then nothing gets done and we just end up back at the start again" she tells me, "I just feel that we are never going to get anything done and nothing is going to change." She's right. I know she's right. Because, God help me, my aim has never changed. I want to stay teaching where I am - outlast the shit and still be there when I'm old and grey. I want to be carried out of the place I now teach in a box - seriously - I want to be that teacher that is still teaching the grandchildren of the first students he taught. I want to be that guy. I always have. When I first got my job where I teach now, in the beginning, I saw myself there forever. And I still see myself there.
Tilly does not.
Tilly wants to move closer to her family and she wants to make a better life for herself somewhere else. It caused friction in the first place and the compromise was the FYP. I had hoped that I could convince her that we could make a life for ourselves near where we lived. I failed. We had a plan to move to the place where our church is but then there was the housing market crash that wiped out my savings in the house.
I bought where we live about three months before I met Tilly. I bought it in a bouyant housing market for approximately £118,000 with a huge mortgage of around £107,000. My mortgage repayments were about what I had been paying for rent and all seemed well. A flood ruined my carpets and decor but, back then, I had massive amounts of income and only supported myself so I simply put aside some money to await the inevitable redecoration. Then, in meeting Tilly, my car exploded, literally. There were flames and everything. It's one of the reasons I didn't fuck up the original relationship because I was still worrying about the car rather than messing things up with this beautiful woman.
For the first time in my life I went into 'real-time' debt. That is, the mortgage debt was fine, I had that pegged so much lower than I could afford that I still had the option of over-paying it, something I intended to do to the tune of about £4,000 a year. The car set me back £2,000 initially and then another £2,000 over the next few months as it limped on. Buying a new car, around the time Tilly moved in, set me back another £3,000 and the engagement ring another £2,000 (Tilly does not know how much that cost and never will). This wiped out my savings and caused me to take out a short term loan. Tilly was unable to find work and I wanted her to wipe out her debt, about £3,000 overdraft, before we were wed. We managed to scrape together almost £9,000 for our wedding, including £2,000 from my father and £1,000 from my mother. I made up about £5,000 of that total. Overpayment was gone.
Then the crash. My bank started upping the interest charges. They were set to double, taking my manageable repayments into the realms of about £1,000 a month, over double. I switched, got a seemingly good fixed rate deal and managed to keep repayments south of £700 a month. Then the interest rates dropped to 0%. I was trapped paying about 5% for the next two years. It added about ten years onto my mortgage term. In the meantime the value of my house stalled, and then tanked. From £121,000 in 2008 to £99,000 in 2010. Basically, the value of my house dropped below what I owed the bank. In 2010 I started overpaying the mortgage again, just, and managed to fight the total owed below £100,000. But the house continued to drop in value. Without double glazing and with shit decor we're looking at maybe £90,000 currently. I owe £97,000 to the bank at this time.
Since Tilly moved in in 2007 I have not had my usual buffer of savings, eaten by the car explosion and stymied by the car accident in 2010, and I have not been able to rectify that. I've borrowed around £3,000 from Tilly and only now am I beginning to repay it at £50 a month. But Tilly is not saving that, she adds it to her monthly budget to support the children and it is spent. Gone. She relies on it. The independent midwives we employed to help the birth of our boy cost us dear, approximately £60 a month, and when that payment stops Tilly has bagsied the money to go to supporting the Boy in his own pursuits - classes and the like.
With the reorganisation at work I stand to lose about £160 a month as it stands.
We don't tithe. Tilly is a supporter of charities but believes that charity begins at home. I am vaguely autistic. I disagree. I have secretly increased our giving to the point where we're almost at 8% of our income (net) being donated. We have about £2,000 a month income.
So, yes, I tend to be cautious about changing significantly. We were not able to sell our house when we were trying back in 2009, and had a chance of getting about £110,000 on it, and it hasn't been off the market since - we just haven't had anyone interested in it. If we were to sell, Tilly wants a three-bedroomed house so that both children can have their own room. The average price of a three bedroomed house where we are is about £125,000 and rising for other places in the country, significantly rising in places that Tilly wants to live. I have no idea where or how Tilly thinks we shall be able to afford a three-bedroomed property. We have no savings. None. No savings.
I saved £18,000 up until 2006 when I bought my house. I had a £3,000 slush fund to buy furniture when I moved in. I was saving £3,000 a year with extra money and another £2,000 a year with my standard budget cuts (I have never actually spent as much as I've budgeted on anything, Tilly lives right on the budget and sometimes slightly over - the 'soakable expense'). Since 2007 I have saved... 18p.
We are, as Tilly just put it, "bumbling along".
Cue tearful conversation in the hallway just now. I'm none the wiser as to what has just happened or where we're going. Tilly seems happier.