3 Ways to Go Part-time Without Going Broke

Years before the Great Recession shattered the country’s economy, I worked part-time in three different professional roles. (Not at the same time.)

It was a close-to-perfect blend of career challenge and family life flexibility, even with the hit in income. (It helps that I’m the frugal type.)

In a perfect flexible work world, my dream is this: that every professional who wants more time for life has the option to work a part-time schedule.

I’m not alone in this, of course, but the financial realities of today have most people cranking full-time hours.

With the money squeeze the way it is, do you see any options for going part-time?

Here are a few ideas for you that will create some flexibility and free time without a heavy hit on your salary.

First, Redefine Part-Time

The “new normal” of the post-recession era has crept into the world of flexible work options. With that, we need to start by redefining part-time: working no fewer than four days a week.

This contrasts with proposing part-time arrangements of 20 to 32 hours per workweek with salary adjustments of 20 to 50%. Still options, of course, if you can swing it financially.

Even so, having a full workday off regularly can mean a world of difference in work-life management. For example, when you can get a few more things done during the week, the weekends won’t be jammed with chores and errands, crowding out fun with your family.

Besides that, my three ways for going part-time without going broke each trim no more than 10% of your salary.

Take a look and see if one will work for you.

Part-time Schedule Option #1: Take Every Other Friday Off

Do you like the sound of 26 long weekends a year? Working the math, that’s 72 hours every two weeks, or 72 out of 80 hours, which retains 90% of your salary.

With only 10% fewer work hours, this arrangement should meet little resistance from your manager. Label it a “reduced workweek” every other week instead of “part-time.”

Part-time Schedule Option #2: The 4/9 Compressed Workweek = One Day Off a Week

This is a twist on the more typical compressed workweek of four, 10-hour days, which is a full-time arrangement. If your job and child care arrangements can conform to it, consider working a compressed workweek of four, 9-hour days.

At 36 hours a week, your proposed arrangement retains 90% of your salary, yet you get one full day off per week. While Fridays off might have the most appeal, think about taking Wednesdays off as a mid-week break.

You might even be able to alternate Wednesdays and Fridays off. Take Wednesdays for school excursions with your child or for your personal appointments. Save the Fridays off for weekends that hook to a Monday holiday. Sweet, yes?

Part-time Schedule Option #3: The Radical Request

Propose a reduced workweek of four days (32 hours), but negotiate to keep your salary at 90 to 100% instead of pro-rating it to 80%.

Radical? Yes. Impossible? No.

From my experience, both personally and with clients, pulling off such an arrangement can depend on:

  • Timing
  • Your perceived value
  • Which work responsibilities you will retain
  • The quality of your relationship with your manager

Almost anything is negotiable and possible. See how it’s been done before and assess whether it could work for you.

Three New Ways to Work

There are countless creative approaches to apply to flexible work arrangements. Now you’re equipped with three ways to work fewer hours without wrecking your budget.

Do you think you’ll do it? Do you have a couple of friends who are pining to go part-time? Do them a favor and tell them that today you found three reasonable ways to swing it. It could make all the difference in their quality of life.

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This article was originally published as a guest post on Working Moms Against Guilt.