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No. of Recommendations: 40
Hey everyone,

(Warning -- LONG post ahead. I will not be insulted if you skip this as a waste of time. I'm posting this as much for myself -- as a reflection of where I have been, where I am, and where I am going -- as I am for anyone else. Hopefully some of you will find some value in this.

I spent a while trying to figure out where to post my 5000th post at the Fool. (Actually, this is probably my 5002nd post as I think I have had 2 posts pulled over the years, but my profile says this is #5000, so...)

I decided to do it here because of all the support I received when I posted about my thoughts on changing careers. This will be pretty free-form, but I figure I will just let go for a few minutes about my time at the Fool and stuff in general.

Where I Have Been

As many of you know, I have a PhD in Chemical Engineering. I completed this almost 7 years ago and have been working for over 6 years at my current job. Probably none of you know this, but we build training simulators for chemical plants and other industries. (Think of them like flight simulators, but for operating the pumps, valves, etc. of a chemical plant.)

I have loved the challenge of this job and the amazing things I get to see and experience. I have traveled to Chile, many places in Canada, Peru, Austria, eastern Germany, India, and various other places. I have met royalty (the King of the area in India I visited); seen some beautiful places that most of you will, unfortunately, never visit; tried unique foods and drinks; spent hours partying in the Christmas markets of Graz and Vienna. So much of this has been incredible.

Unfortunately, not everything has been so positive. I spent most of 5 months out of the country while my mother-in-law was dying of cancer. I spent another 3 months out of the country right after my father was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma. I would give up all of my experiences to have my wife's mother back. My dad has pretty much defeated his incurable cancer, but his kidneys do not work; I would give up a lot of what I have seen/done to have him fully healthy.

It is this time away, combined with the unfortunate circumstances, that makes me want to move on to the next experience.

Where I am Today

First, thanks to everyone for your help in the thread I posted a month ago about becoming a teacher. I am applying to schools now and hope to know something in the not-too-distant future. There is a huge need for math/science teachers all over Georgia and my county is no exception. So I think I should be able to find something.

The decrease in salary will suck, but my wife and I will still make plenty of money. Many of you would think we live extravagant lifestyles, but we are actually quite frugal considering our incomes. We save 25-30% (and sometimes more) of our gross incomes each year. My feeling has always been that we need to save for the future, but we also have to LIVE now. So anything left over after taxes and these savings, we spend. Nice vacations (Disney and Las Vegas each at least once per year; other trips to see family as often as possible; occasional blowout trips when we have the time); nice dinners; gifts for ourselves and friends; etc.

So the drop in salary will just force us to drop back a little bit on some of those categories. Realistically, the drop will mean *very* little to us. Our "budgetable" income will actually rise this year even with my pay decrease. Crazy, but true. This is partly due to a large raise my wife just received (that we will just save until we know my new salary) and the fact that a good chunk of my income is a bonus that I never budget.

So while I hate dropping so much in salary, I am not at all worried about it.

Financially, my wife and I are in fantastic shape. I am 35 and my wife is 30. A few years ago, I built an extensive projection of the money we would want/need for retirement. We are ahead of pace and getting further ahead almost every month since we are saving so well.

Where I am Heading

This is the exciting part. There is so much I see ahead of us...

(1) The job change. Naturally, this is a huge thing. Forget the money side of things. This is exciting because I always wanted to do something like this, but I never thought it would be ok financially. I just figured I could not take the lower salary. But my degree gets me a good pay increase and my wife makes excellent money as a patent attorney. So now I can go after this dream and see what I think.

Hopefully, I will love it. If not, I have lots of options for the 3rd "adult" phase of my life. But I'll give this a few years first.

(2) Starting a family. My wife and I are hoping to get started on the family this year. In a perfect world, we would have the first child next March...then my wife can take her 3 months of paid leave and then I will be home for 2 months while schools are off for the summer. That would get us a combined 5 months with our child without losing any pay.

(Actually, I think it would be perfect if we had twins -- one boy, one girls -- so that we could get it done all at once. My wife says she thinks this sounds good too, but I don't know that she would feel that way while she carries...)

(3) Eventually moving to the Louisville area. I love Atlanta. I think it is great here and I really like it. But my wife's family is in the Louisville area. Her sister has 2 kids with a 3rd on the way. It would be nice for the kids to all grow up together.

I also think the Louisville area might be a better place to raise a family. As much as I like Atlanta, it comes with longer commutes, more time in a car to do almost anything, etc. All of this takes away from quality family time.

I'm sure if I sat here long enough, I would think of a dozen more items to put here. But one of my passions in life is sports in general. Particularly a few key items -- the Olympics and the NCAA Basketball Tournament. The latter is on right now and I have been watching the game (Xavier is giving Ohio State all they can handle, but WOW does Greg Oden look good). So I'm off to get a beer and enjoy the rest of the afternoon. Then my wife and I are having dinner with a couple of long-time of which was my best friend all through high school.

Thanks to everyone here and at the other boards of the Fool. My first 5000 posts have been a fantastic time. I've learned a lot and tried to help others learn as well. I've been lucky enough to have 2 of my posts selected for Hot Topics, even though most of my posts are quick answers to people's questions. I guess, when I want to I can write a good post that others find important.

I expect to be on these forums for many years to come. But even at about 100 posts per month, it will take a long time before I hit the 20K posts required to get the next level. I'm sure my life will take a number of unexpected turns between now and then. I'm also sure the Fool Community will be there to help me out whenever I have questions along the way.

Thanks again.

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