A half year at full pay or a full year at half pay?

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Ultralight Hiker
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A half year at full pay or a full year at half pay?

Post by Ultralight Hiker » Thu Jan 11, 2018 5:53 pm

Hi All,

My wife and I work at a small university in a rural area. While we love our jobs, we are not crazy about the location.

Fortunately, every 7 years we get a sabbatical -- a semester at full pay or a full academic year at half pay. Full benefits either way. While some external funding is possible, it would not come close to covering the lost wages.

Still, we are very tempted to take the full year option -- we would love to live in a more culturally vibrant area for a year, and the kids could go to better schools (current schools are just so-so). It just seems a little indulgent.

At half pay, we would not be able to make retirement contributions (currently we max out IRA and 403b). However, we are ahead of the game with our retirement savings.

Are we crazy to consider taking a year? What other factors should we consider?

Please help us think this through this in a boglehead-ish way!
-UlH
Last edited by Ultralight Hiker on Thu Jan 11, 2018 9:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Pajamas
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Re: A half year off at full pay or a full year off at half pay?

Post by Pajamas » Thu Jan 11, 2018 5:58 pm

I wouldn't move my children to a different school for a year unless there were something very unique about it that made it a great opportunity, like a school in another country or a school focused on a special talent that one of them had.

If you know what you want to do for a year, it would probably be worth it to take the year off. If you have to think of something to fill the time, the semester might be better. The kids can stay in their current schools. Once they graduate high school would be a good time to take a full year off to live somewhere else or travel.

protagonist
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Re: A half year off at full pay or a full year off at half pay?

Post by protagonist » Thu Jan 11, 2018 6:38 pm

Ultralight Hiker wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 5:53 pm

Are we crazy to consider taking a year? What other factors should we consider?

Please help us think this through this in a boglehead-ish way!
-UlH
No , you would be crazy to consider taking a half year instead.
Time is the most valuable thing we have, and we don't have much of it.

ps...Not to derail your thread, but now that I have solved your problem (ah, the value of free advice....to quote Bob Dylan "Tell me, great hero, but please make it brief") ...it's your turn to solve mine, Ultralight Hiker. I am going to be sailing Hobie Cats in Thailand for a few weeks and want to buy a lightweight and compact but quality usable sleeping pad that will last. Professional reviewers all seem to recommend the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite, but the user reviews are mixed and it is expensive. As an ultralight hiker, perhaps you have some insight....what would you buy?
Last edited by protagonist on Thu Jan 11, 2018 6:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Maya1234
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Re: A half year off at full pay or a full year off at half pay?

Post by Maya1234 » Thu Jan 11, 2018 6:44 pm

Have you really thought about the effect a change of schools would have on your kids? And then the fact that they’d come back and have to start over once again? No school is good enough for doing that to my kid to be an incentive. Of course some children face school changes becuae of their parents jobs. But that’s a bug not a feature for most children. Only very resilient kids with personalities that give them social ease thrive under those circumstances though many can certainly endure it ok.
Last edited by Maya1234 on Thu Jan 11, 2018 6:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Golf maniac
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Re: A half year off at full pay or a full year off at half pay?

Post by Golf maniac » Thu Jan 11, 2018 6:45 pm

Not sure I would take my kids out of a school for a full year and then move them back. That is a lot of change in one year for kids, I know my kids wouldn’t like it. But maybe your kids are different.

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whodidntante
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Re: A half year off at full pay or a full year off at half pay?

Post by whodidntante » Thu Jan 11, 2018 6:47 pm

Culture sounds expensive.

PugetSoundguy
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Re: A half year off at full pay or a full year off at half pay?

Post by PugetSoundguy » Thu Jan 11, 2018 6:55 pm

Wow, sounds exciting. My family would take the year in a heartbeat. And you get half pay and full benefits? No-brainer to me! You know your kids best of course as far as how they would like a year someplace else. I think our kids would find a year someplace else pretty exciting. How old are your kids? And where are you thinking of going? I'm jealous!

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Re: A half year off at full pay or a full year off at half pay?

Post by sailaway » Thu Jan 11, 2018 6:59 pm

Golf maniac wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 6:45 pm
Not sure I would take my kids out of a school for a full year and then move them back. That is a lot of change in one year for kids, I know my kids wouldn’t like it. But maybe your kids are different.
As someone else said, I would for a major life experience, like living abroad. However, to put a kid in a school that you consider better for a year, then make them go back? It's one thing if they happen not to thrive at the new school, but it they do?

I still vote for the full year, but you could do it with homeschooling, for example.

Ultralight Hiker
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Re: A half year off at full pay or a full year off at half pay?

Post by Ultralight Hiker » Thu Jan 11, 2018 7:03 pm

protagonist wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 6:38 pm
ps...Not to derail your thread, but now that I have solved your problem (ah, the value of free advice....to quote Bob Dylan "Tell me, great hero, but please make it brief") ...it's your turn to solve mine, Ultralight Hiker. I am going to be sailing Hobie Cats in Thailand for a few weeks and want to buy a lightweight and compact but quality usable sleeping pad that will last. Professional reviewers all seem to recommend the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite, but the user reviews are mixed and it is expensive. As an ultralight hiker, perhaps you have some insight....what would you buy?
Thanks for solving my problem!

I would buy a hammock and a 50 degree quilt and underquilt:
http://www.hammockgear.com/down-quilts/
https://dutchwaregear.com/product-categ ... -hammocks/

If you must sleep on the ground, I would definitely recommend the NeoAir Xlite. It is not indestructible but will last if you care for it. Which reminds me (and I am serious) I need to send my Xlite back to Thermarest to fix that slow leak.

Ultralight Hiker
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Re: A half year off at full pay or a full year off at half pay?

Post by Ultralight Hiker » Thu Jan 11, 2018 7:55 pm

Thanks for the responses everyone. I've been most focused on the financial aspect of the decision, but most of the comments above relate to kids' adjustment to a new school.

Kids will be in high school and middle school, so it's an especially important consideration.

But really, how bad is it to skip an entire year of retirement savings? That is the monetary cost.

ULH

sailaway
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Re: A half year off at full pay or a full year off at half pay?

Post by sailaway » Thu Jan 11, 2018 8:01 pm

As someone who plans to skip about 20 years of retirement savings, it depends. Since you say that you are ahead of the game, I think the experience would outweigh the cost.

For the high schooler, be sure to check on how this plan might affect graduation requirements.
Last edited by sailaway on Thu Jan 11, 2018 8:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

shiftleft
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Re: A half year off at full pay or a full year off at half pay?

Post by shiftleft » Thu Jan 11, 2018 8:09 pm

If I was offered this, I would take the full year off in a heartbeat. YOLO. Your kids are only young once. Soon they'll be out of the house with their own lives. You can always make more money, but it's hard to make more time. No one wishes they worked more while on their death bed.

Teague
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Re: A half year off at full pay or a full year off at half pay?

Post by Teague » Thu Jan 11, 2018 8:26 pm

Assuming benefits include a pension, and further assuming the pension is calculated with the common factors of age, salary, and years of service, I'd be tempted to take the full year. My reasoning follows:

At the end of the full year off, you will have accrued a full service year, as opposed to 1/2 service year with the other option. This could be significant, and at least partly offset the retirement contributions you will not be making for the year.

Of course if you don't have a pension, or if it works differently, never mind. :happy
Semper Augustus

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Re: A half year off at full pay or a full year off at half pay?

Post by TallBoy29er » Thu Jan 11, 2018 8:35 pm

Oh geez. No brainer for me. Yes, you will lose 1 year of retirement savings. When I think of retirement savings, I am saving to do some traveling, and pursue other interests. You get to do that NOW, and still get paid. Holy crap. Take the full year off. Your eighty year old self will thank you for it.

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HomerJ
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Re: A half year off at full pay or a full year off at half pay?

Post by HomerJ » Thu Jan 11, 2018 8:43 pm

No wonder tuition has gone through the roof... :)

I cannot believe that a percentage of the money I send to my kid's college is being given to professors who are "taking a year off with half-pay and full benefits".

That said, if my employer offered me that deal, I would take the full year instead of the half-year.
Last edited by HomerJ on Thu Jan 11, 2018 10:27 pm, edited 2 times in total.

TallBoy29er
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Re: A half year off at full pay or a full year off at half pay?

Post by TallBoy29er » Thu Jan 11, 2018 8:51 pm

^^ There's always that one guy at the party.... :P

adamthesmythe
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Re: A half year off at full pay or a full year off at half pay?

Post by adamthesmythe » Thu Jan 11, 2018 9:29 pm

HomerJ wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 8:43 pm
No wonder tuition has gone through the roof...

I cannot believe that a percentage of the money I send to my kid's college is being given to professors who are "taking a year off with half-pay and full benefits".

Ridiculous.

That said, if my employer offered me that deal, I would take the full year without even thinking about it. (Of course, my employer would probably be out of business fairly quickly if they offered that deal to its employees).
You're offended because either OP doesn't understand the purpose of a sabbatical or he isn't saying so.

What he SHOULD do is something that will advance his career that he can't do while teaching. Finish dat book, write dat review paper, work on a project at dat national lab. He should come back knowing more, with more career accomplishments, with a leg up for promotion,... If that comes with a change of scene in a culturally vibrant city, so much the better.

Now that's what he's supposed to do with the sabbatical (we actually had to have a plan). Not saying everybody accomplishes the plan, but that's the idea.

So since the sabbatical should be an investment in yourself, the question should be whether foregoing a half year's worth of pay and retirement savings is a net win. Ideally it should be.

By the way- tuition is through the roof more because of the administrators.

crit
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Re: A half year at full pay or a full year at half pay?

Post by crit » Thu Jan 11, 2018 9:45 pm

Academic here, who is planning on the whole year. The thing that gives me qualms is the doubled housing costs. But still.

Remember that universities are, generally, quite generous with retirement contributions. You're likely a bit ahead of the game for that reason. My spouse gets nothing from his company - no match. Will the U still contribute while you're on sabbatical? Better than zero.

I read a blog where one of the authors talked a great deal about sabbatical choices, and living in a sub-optimal area they were happy to leave for a bit. You may need to dig a bit back to find those posts, it was a year or two ago: https://nicoleandmaggie.wordpress.com/

Ultralight Hiker
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Yes, I will be working during my sabbatical

Post by Ultralight Hiker » Thu Jan 11, 2018 9:50 pm

HomerJ wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 8:43 pm
No wonder tuition has gone through the roof...

I cannot believe that a percentage of the money I send to my kid's college is being given to professors who are "taking a year off with half-pay and full benefits".

Ridiculous.

That said, if my employer offered me that deal, I would take the full year without even thinking about it. (Of course, my employer would probably be out of business fairly quickly if they offered that deal to its employees).
Mea culpa... it was a poor choice of words in the original title. It's not "time off". I will be working full time during the sabbatical (two research projects, and developing a new course, also working with a former student to publish a paper). I can do this from a coffee shop or library anywhere in the world.

I'm sure that in your line of work there are things that people need to do to attract and retain top people. Maybe it is a good salary, health care, or other benefit.

Well, an academic institution that does not have a sabbatical system will not be able to recruit, hire, and retain top faculty. They will just not be taken seriously. And the money for sabbaticals mostly comes out of total salary pool for faculty, so it's not much of a factor in soaring tuition (which admittedly is a huge problem).

ULH

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Re: A half year at full pay or a full year at half pay?

Post by Golf maniac » Thu Jan 11, 2018 9:57 pm

Besides the family issues, from a retirement standpoint probably not a big deal to not put into retirement accounts for a year.

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Cycle
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Re: A half year at full pay or a full year at half pay?

Post by Cycle » Thu Jan 11, 2018 10:00 pm

Full year. Help protagonist with ultralight problem in Thailand, it's much cheaper than the US and will be a life long memory for the kids. Or don't, the kids will get exposed to different experiences in college.

remomnyc
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Re: A half year at full pay or a full year at half pay?

Post by remomnyc » Thu Jan 11, 2018 10:07 pm

I wanted to do this, but my children, ages 14 and 12, did not want to take a year off from school or change schools for a year.

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obafgkm
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Re: A half year at full pay or a full year at half pay?

Post by obafgkm » Thu Jan 11, 2018 10:12 pm

I'm a professor; I've just started a sabbatical for the spring (not "time off", but working on a research project and finishing co-authoring a book).

I decided to do the half-year, full-pay option because I am a single (widowed) parent and I figured I couldn't afford going to half-pay for a full year. Either way, I would have stayed in my town mostly.

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HomerJ
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Re: Yes, I will be working during my sabbatical

Post by HomerJ » Thu Jan 11, 2018 10:33 pm

Ultralight Hiker wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 9:50 pm
Mea culpa... it was a poor choice of words in the original title. It's not "time off". I will be working full time during the sabbatical (two research projects, and developing a new course, also working with a former student to publish a paper).
Thank you for the clarification. My apologies for the semi-rude post (I edited it, but left it somewhat the same so the thread still makes sense).

In that case, I would take a half-year at full pay. If you are actually working full time, why would you take half-pay for a year?

Unless again, I'm missing something about sabbaticals.

Is it, either way, you are going to do two research projects, develop a new course, and help publish a paper? So you'd have to work pretty hard for 6 months at full pay, or work part-time for a year (and get paid as a part-time worker in exchange)?

I'd probably take the half-time job (full year at half-pay) if the amount of work is the same.

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Watty
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Re: A half year at full pay or a full year at half pay?

Post by Watty » Thu Jan 11, 2018 11:08 pm

Ultralight Hiker wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 5:53 pm
Fortunately, every 7 years we get a sabbatical -- a semester at full pay or a full academic year at half pay. Full benefits either way. While some external funding is possible, it would not come close to covering the lost wages.
How many months would the semester sabbatical be and how is the summer session counted in this?

How much paid vacation, or time off in the summer, do you get and could you tack that on to the semester option?

I would look at the semester option in terms of the number of weeks you could be on sabbatical including your normal vacation and any time off during the summer break. Looking at the year long sabbatical should take your normal time off into account.
Ultralight Hiker wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 5:53 pm
What other factors should we consider?
Some things for brainstorming.

1) Be sure look at your after tax numbers not your gross wages. Depending on when the full year sabbatical starts you could have two years with lower taxable income which might put you in a lower tax bracket.

2) Does your wife work and what would the impact be on her income and career? Do your kids have jobs? if so then you need to take their lost income into account too.

3) What will you do with your house if you travel for a long period of time? You likely could not rent it out without putting all your stuff in storage and it might be hard to find a renter for that exact time period. If the house is empty and you also rent a house in some exotic location your housing costs could in effect be double.

4) Many desirable parts of the country have very expensive housing and bubbly housing markets. Finding an affordable house or apartment to rent in a good school district could be a challenge, and then you will need to figure out how to furnish it.

5) Depending on where you go if you put your kids in school somewhere else you may have to pay for a private school especially if you are overseas.

6) Getting a long term rental and putting your kids in school somewhere may mean that you have to pay that states income tax and change your drivers licenses and car registrations.

7) Your health insurance may not have any in-network doctors where you are at or may not cover you at all overseas.

8) Some of the other posts mentioned the impact on your kids. Even if your kids do fine, changing schools like that can cause problems with differences in the curriculum. One summer I did a corporate relocation while my kid was in school. It turned out that school that he transferred out of taught cursive handwriting the year after we moved. The school he transferred to taught it the year before. This meant that he never learned cursive handwriting. This was not a big problem and some schools don't even teach it now but when he was ready to get his first drivers license he was in a panic since he didn't really have a cursive signature to sign the needed paperwork so he needed to figure out how to (sort of) sign his name.

I don't see a slam dunk easy choice. Disregarding the money a six month(or whatever) sabbatical would be great, but I don't think a year long sabbatical would anywhere near twice as great.

I would lean toward taking the shorter sabbatical now while you have the kids at home, and then maybe take the year sabbatical in seven more years when you get your next sabbatical when the kids are out of the house.

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celia
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Re: A half year off at full pay or a full year off at half pay?

Post by celia » Thu Jan 11, 2018 11:30 pm

adamthesmythe wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 9:29 pm
What he SHOULD do is something that will advance his career that he can't do while teaching. Finish dat book, write dat review paper, work on a project at dat national lab. He should come back knowing more, with more career accomplishments, with a leg up for promotion,... If that comes with a change of scene in a culturally vibrant city, so much the better.
I think this should apply to your spouse and kids, too. Is there someplace that exposes your kids to something different so that they will have a leg up come college admissions time? Do they have general career ideas?

If everyone in the family would benefit, then it is a no-brainer for me. But EVERYONE needs to want to do it and take advantage of the opportunities. For example, if your kids are not currently exposed to ethnic diversity, you could focus on that. One weekend a month in a large city, the family could go to an ethnic event. Or if your kids don't have rigorous science classes, going to school in an area with science museums and participating in their programs (and STEM camps), could make them aware of jobs they may never have heard of and what kind of background is needed for them. If they have limited exposure to the arts, you could go someplace that has lots of art, music, theatrical, etc events for kids.

Of course, you may want to choose "magnet schools" that emphasize the experience they are looking for.

halfnine
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Re: A half year at full pay or a full year at half pay?

Post by halfnine » Fri Jan 12, 2018 7:40 am

Our intentions are to take our kids on a year traveling abroad even without an option for a sabbatical. So, I think you understand my preferences. However, I will not take my kids when they are in their teenage years unless it is something they truly want to do and I am not talking just a little bit. My parents moved me about during my teenage years. It put a strain on our future relationship and I think it is fair to say that I still haven't forgiven them for it.

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Re: A half year at full pay or a full year at half pay?

Post by forgeblast » Fri Jan 12, 2018 11:29 am

Just thinking out loud....
Most public schools (in our state)also have cyber schools connected with them so you kids
could continue going to the same "school district" even if you are traveling.

Sabbaticals are a funny thing, at my wife's school every seven years there are people taking them, while at my school I dont know of a
single person who has done one. I would love to do one, but just do not see it happening at this point in time.
When I get closer to retirement, it makes no sense to take it in the last three years due to the pension formula.
Also there are sometimes requirements for when you take one, I think ours are that you can not retire after a sabbatical that you
have to put in at least one more year or half a year what ever you chose to take.

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Re: A half year off at full pay or a full year off at half pay?

Post by quantAndHold » Fri Jan 12, 2018 11:56 am

HomerJ wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 8:43 pm
No wonder tuition has gone through the roof... :)

I cannot believe that a percentage of the money I send to my kid's college is being given to professors who are "taking a year off with half-pay and full benefits".

That said, if my employer offered me that deal, I would take the full year instead of the half-year.
This is nothing new. Teachers have had sabbatical arrangements *at least* since I was a little kid. My uncle took a sabbatical and took his family to Mexico for a year back in the 50’s, and he was an elementary school teacher. At the college level, it’s a chance for academics to do the academic stuff they’re supposed to be doing, without the distraction of trying to teach classes at the same time.

If it were me, I’d take the full year, and use it to live in another country. It can be the whole family’s exchange year, and you can pick a country with relatively low costs. If you’re already doing a good job of saving, taking a year off from saving won’t make much difference in the long run.

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Re: A half year at full pay or a full year at half pay?

Post by Ultralight Hiker » Fri Jan 12, 2018 12:59 pm

Great thoughts everyone, thanks!

It seems like the majority vote for a year. But we are leaning toward a semester in a new location. Reasons:

- Teen and pre-teen boys would probably be willing to leave their friends for a semester but a year might be a tougher sell. Our high school goes by a semester block system -- if we could move to a district with a similar system it would not be hard to make a mid-year switch. And if they don't like it, well it's not so long.

- Cost, obviously. The post-tax cost of the extra 6 months of leave would be around $86000 or almost $500/day. That doesn't even include the higher cost of living at the new location. While we could afford to do it, there are other things we'd like to spend our money on over the next 10 years.

ULH

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Re: A half year at full pay or a full year at half pay?

Post by KT785 » Fri Jan 12, 2018 1:22 pm

Ultralight Hiker wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 12:59 pm

- Teen and pre-teen boys would probably be willing to leave their friends for a semester but a year might be a tougher sell. Our high school goes by a semester block system -- if we could move to a district with a similar system it would not be hard to make a mid-year switch. And if they don't like it, well it's not so long.
Is homeschooling or online school an option?

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Re: A half year at full pay or a full year at half pay?

Post by Ultralight Hiker » Fri Jan 12, 2018 1:27 pm

KT785 wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 1:22 pm
Is homeschooling or online school an option?
Kids would hate homeschooling. They enjoy the social interaction of school. Plus parents have to get some work done.

Living abroad has been vetoed by all because it would be difficult to bring cherished family dog.

halfnine
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Re: A half year at full pay or a full year at half pay?

Post by halfnine » Sat Jan 13, 2018 5:19 pm

Ultralight Hiker wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 12:59 pm
...Cost, obviously. The post-tax cost of the extra 6 months of leave would be around $86000 or almost $500/day. That doesn't even include the higher cost of living at the new location. While we could afford to do it, there are other things we'd like to spend our money on over the next 10 years...

ULH
That is one interpretation. The other is that the cost is zero but it delays retirement 6 months and everything that you would want to spend the money on over the next 10 years will have to wait 6 months later as well. So the question is whether the time is worth more to you now or later.

mouses
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Re: A half year off at full pay or a full year off at half pay?

Post by mouses » Sat Jan 13, 2018 9:10 pm

HomerJ wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 8:43 pm
No wonder tuition has gone through the roof... :)

I cannot believe that a percentage of the money I send to my kid's college is being given to professors who are "taking a year off with half-pay and full benefits".

That said, if my employer offered me that deal, I would take the full year instead of the half-year.
Sabbaticals are part of university compensation, whether they are spent on academic work or not, and as OP notes he is doing the former.

Ultralight Hiker
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Re: A half year at full pay or a full year at half pay?

Post by Ultralight Hiker » Sun Jan 14, 2018 7:03 pm

halfnine wrote:
Sat Jan 13, 2018 5:19 pm
That is one interpretation. The other is that the cost is zero but it delays retirement 6 months and everything that you would want to spend the money on over the next 10 years will have to wait 6 months later as well. So the question is whether the time is worth more to you now or later.
I like your way of thinking, but it's not "6 months now or 6 months later". It is more like "6 months now or 12 months later", given that my investments today would likely double by retirement.

quantAndHold
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Re: A half year at full pay or a full year at half pay?

Post by quantAndHold » Sun Jan 14, 2018 7:15 pm

Most countries will allow you to bring the family dog with you. Each country has its own requirements, but mostly they hinge around the dog having had all its shots.

Bob's not my name
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Re: A half year at full pay or a full year at half pay?

Post by Bob's not my name » Sun Jan 14, 2018 7:44 pm

  • You should definitely deny your children the adventure, learning, and broadening experience of a sabbatical so they can stay in the same school their whole lives, as God intended, because all learning happens in school.
  • I'm sure you've done the math right, but do look very carefully at how taxes will determine the true cost of going to 3/4 pay for two calendar years.
  • On the other hand, the best option for both adventure and finance could be taking the semester and doing something more intense than moving to a nicer school district.

ny_knicks
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Re: A half year off at full pay or a full year off at half pay?

Post by ny_knicks » Sun Jan 14, 2018 7:55 pm

HomerJ wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 8:43 pm
No wonder tuition has gone through the roof... :)
I thought the same thing. Put 20 year olds $60k in a debt for a year of tuition but enjoy the "cultural" emersion in Monaco on the school's dime! I am sure it will really enhance the curriculum. Only in academia...

^OP I may be slightly jealous/bitter as I have student loans so take that as a joke :D

A year off with your family is truly a unique experience. Take the full year forgo the retirement savings and enjoy life. The IRA will be there to contribute on your return. Your kids will likely look back on it 20 years from now and think what an amazing experience/opportunity that was.

crit
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Re: A half year off at full pay or a full year off at half pay?

Post by crit » Sun Jan 14, 2018 7:59 pm

HomerJ wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 8:43 pm
I cannot believe that a percentage of the money I send to my kid's college is being given to professors who are "taking a year off with half-pay and full benefits".
You're getting some kickback on this line of thinking, for many reasons.

At a straightforward level, it is part of a compensation package, and must be there to be competitive..

But at a deeper level, I'm sure you expect your kids' professors to be wordly sages, not just rote instructors. The deep knowledge that we share with your kid comes from .... doing things that don't involve standing in front of a classroom. You doubtlessly look for a university with an excellent reputation, and that arises largely from scholarship and research.

A sabbatical is not a 'year off', it is time spent immersed in scholarship. I hope it follows that our summers are not 'off' either.

That lifetime of expertise is what your are paying for. I hope your kid does everything s/he can to take advantage of everything s/he has access to. It's a real shame when students treat college like it's just a series of classes.

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willthrill81
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Re: A half year off at full pay or a full year off at half pay?

Post by willthrill81 » Mon Jan 15, 2018 12:42 am

Ultralight Hiker wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 7:55 pm
But really, how bad is it to skip an entire year of retirement savings? That is the monetary cost.
Everything else being equal, it would delay your retirement by one year.
adamthesmythe wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 9:29 pm
By the way- tuition is through the roof more because of the administrators.
Truth! :annoyed

There are so many vice-presidents of meaningless junk that don't do anything to improve students' learning, money spent on consultants when the faculty could/should be consulted instead (for free!), etc., that it's utterly insane. With a free hand, I could easily cut our local university's costs by 10-20%, and it wouldn't hurt student's learning one bit; it actually might improve it.
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien,The Lord of the Rings

getthatmarshmallow
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Re: A half year at full pay or a full year at half pay?

Post by getthatmarshmallow » Mon Jan 15, 2018 1:43 am

Oh, man, this is a tough call (and one I'll be facing in a couple of years!) One of my non-financial considerations is where I would travel. If I have a visiting scholar status lined up somewhere, that makes a longer sabbatical potentially more productive, but with a non-academic spouse and two kids I'm unlikely to move the family for a year. I'd be inclined to take the year if you can swing it -- think of all of the writing you could get done! I think the effect of the rest of your career on your future retirement is so nebulous that it wouldn't be worth losing the time now on the assumption that if nothing changes at all you would have to retire one year later -- maybe the extra research gets you a merit increase, or a move to a better job, or you share my talent at making major life transitions when the economy blows up, so you'll work longer anyway. ;-)

For those of you worrying that your tuition dollars are subsidizing vacation, I'd add that at least at my institution, faculty salaries aren't driving tuition inflation (decreasing state support + increased administrative expenses -- some justified, some not) does that, but also that part of my job *is* scholarship, and if you want your kid learning from someone who researches the discipline and keeps up to date on current trends, you won't begrudge that year at all.

daveydoo
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Re: A half year at full pay or a full year at half pay?

Post by daveydoo » Mon Jan 15, 2018 2:56 am

Ultralight Hiker wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 5:53 pm

Fortunately, every 7 years we get a sabbatical...
They still make those? Congrats!

I'm pretty conservative, financially, and I was about to say "socially," too, but that's not what I mean. What I mean is that I'd be slow to leave my acceptable(ish) work environment and to disrupt my kids' academic year -- and even with that in mind, this sounds like an unbelievable opportunity! I would do the year, preferably in another country. Assuming your kids and spouse are on board. And if there's a meaningful collaboration there, all the better! Opportunities like this can be life-altering, imo. (Spouse and kids regret that we have never done anything like this.)
"I mean, it's one banana, Michael...what could it cost? Ten dollars?"

stlrick
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Re: A half year at full pay or a full year at half pay?

Post by stlrick » Mon Jan 15, 2018 8:35 am

You are at a small rural university and I've spent my career at a research university, so there will be some differences in expectations, but I've taken myself or seen dozens of these sabbaticals by colleagues. I've never heard of anyone taking a full year with a family without first establishing the visiting institution that they would call their home base for the work they would do over the year (another university, museum, government organization, etc). Six month sabbaticals usually involve working at home and taking trips (sometimes for a couple of months) to take advantage of some research opportunity, while the family goes about their normal lives. A full year away, including an appropriate school for your children, good living conditions, etc., requires some inside knowledge, as well as referrals, from a host. That is why it hardly ever happens without a sponsoring institution that has done this for other visitors.

Jags4186
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Re: A half year at full pay or a full year at half pay?

Post by Jags4186 » Mon Jan 15, 2018 8:41 am

I would agree with the others who vote 6 months. If you are truly working full time, albeit on self selected research projects/authoring papers, why would you work full time for 1 year at half pay? Unless you think whatever you can work on would generate income to you in excess of 1/2 your yearly pay and can only be completed with a full year, of course.

Ultralight Hiker
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Re: A half year at full pay or a full year at half pay?

Post by Ultralight Hiker » Mon Jan 15, 2018 1:21 pm

stlrick wrote:
Mon Jan 15, 2018 8:35 am
You are at a small rural university and I've spent my career at a research university, so there will be some differences in expectations, but I've taken myself or seen dozens of these sabbaticals by colleagues. I've never heard of anyone taking a full year with a family without first establishing the visiting institution that they would call their home base for the work they would do over the year (another university, museum, government organization, etc). Six month sabbaticals usually involve working at home and taking trips (sometimes for a couple of months) to take advantage of some research opportunity, while the family goes about their normal lives. A full year away, including an appropriate school for your children, good living conditions, etc., requires some inside knowledge, as well as referrals, from a host. That is why it hardly ever happens without a sponsoring institution that has done this for other visitors.
Thanks for your comment stlrick. I have a relationship with a few institutions that could host me for either a 6 or 12 month stay. I'd get a desk and an affiliation, but no funding. I don't see why we would have to stay home for a 6 month sabbatical.

I think taking the whole family somewhere exciting & new for an entire year would have been easier socially with kids in in elementary. In middle and high school they may be a little ambivalent. That is another reason why we are leaning toward a single semester -- the kids could have a little adventure but also stay connected to their friends. The high school is on a semester system, so if we found another school on the semester system the credit transfer should be straightforward.

Wolkenspiel
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Re: A half year at full pay or a full year at half pay?

Post by Wolkenspiel » Mon Jan 15, 2018 2:00 pm

I'm a bit late to the party, but here are some random thoughts:
- I'm planning to take my 2nd sabbatical this year - full year at full pay. That's not the official policy, but I have seen many different kinds of deals made: double-teaching, course development, research leaves, buying out teaching etc. Are you sure you explored all options?
- We were able to rent our house for a year to tenants that took good care of our property. We downsized to a 2-bedroom apartment in Europe that cost ~1/2 of what we received in rent for our house
- My first sabbatical was spent in Europe, next one will be spent in East Asia. Kids are in elementary school and will go to public schools (they are ~bilingual). If you spend almost all of the year outside of the US, the foreign earned income exclusion should make a not-insignificant contribution to your after-tax financial picture. If one could add at least some minimal funding/support from either domestic or foreign sources, you might more or less break even
- Even if this delays retirement by a year, I would trade a year spent with my young family at a location of our choice over an extra year of retirement in some unknown future any time, every time

Ultralight Hiker
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Re: A half year at full pay or a full year at half pay?

Post by Ultralight Hiker » Mon Jan 15, 2018 10:33 pm

Wolkenspiel wrote:
Mon Jan 15, 2018 2:00 pm
- Even if this delays retirement by a year, I would trade a year spent with my young family at a location of our choice over an extra year of retirement in some unknown future any time, every time
Yes... I think you've got the right priorities. If our kids our game, I think so are we. If they are surly teens in 2 years, we may keep it short :)

runner3081
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Re: A half year at full pay or a full year at half pay?

Post by runner3081 » Tue Jan 16, 2018 4:37 pm

AirBNB (or long term-rental on) your current house, live somewhere else. Perhaps that allows you to still put money into retirement?

Rupert
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Re: A half year off at full pay or a full year off at half pay?

Post by Rupert » Tue Jan 16, 2018 5:57 pm

crit wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 7:59 pm
HomerJ wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 8:43 pm
I cannot believe that a percentage of the money I send to my kid's college is being given to professors who are "taking a year off with half-pay and full benefits".
You're getting some kickback on this line of thinking, for many reasons.

At a straightforward level, it is part of a compensation package, and must be there to be competitive..

But at a deeper level, I'm sure you expect your kids' professors to be wordly sages, not just rote instructors. The deep knowledge that we share with your kid comes from .... doing things that don't involve standing in front of a classroom. You doubtlessly look for a university with an excellent reputation, and that arises largely from scholarship and research.

A sabbatical is not a 'year off', it is time spent immersed in scholarship. I hope it follows that our summers are not 'off' either.

That lifetime of expertise is what your are paying for. I hope your kid does everything s/he can to take advantage of everything s/he has access to. It's a real shame when students treat college like it's just a series of classes.
Gosh, even some non-academics get sabbaticals. It helps keep the mind sharp and spurs creativity. I know at least one local law firm and one local architecture firm that mandate 6-month sabbaticals for its lawyers and architects every 5 years or so. The architecture firm actually mandates that its architects leave the country and visit a part of the world they are unfamiliar with. I think that's extremely civilized.

flyingaway
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Re: A half year at full pay or a full year at half pay?

Post by flyingaway » Tue Jan 16, 2018 6:13 pm

Half year full pay is the way to go. You have not of months in summer and winter break, why mess up with reduced pay? Unless you really want to be somewhere else and they pay you the other half.

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