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Wellness Wednesday for November 23, 2022

The Wednesday Wellness threads are meant to encourage users to ask for and provide advice and motivation to improve their lives. It isn't intended as a 'containment thread' and any content which could go here could instead be posted in its own thread. You could post:

  • Requests for advice and / or encouragement. On basically any topic and for any scale of problem.

  • Updates to let us know how you are doing. This provides valuable feedback on past advice / encouragement and will hopefully make people feel a little more motivated to follow through. If you want to be reminded to post your update, see the post titled 'update reminders', below.

  • Advice. This can be in response to a request for advice or just something that you think could be generally useful for many people here.

  • Encouragement. Probably best directed at specific users, but if you feel like just encouraging people in general I don't think anyone is going to object. I don't think I really need to say this, but just to be clear; encouragement should have a generally positive tone and not shame people (if people feel that shame might be an effective tool for motivating people, please discuss this so we can form a group consensus on how to use it rather than just trying it).

Jump in the discussion.

No email address required.

What's the best way to get a cardio workout at home without equipment and without pissing off the downstairs neighbors?

If you're willing to settle for cheap equipment that doesn't take up much space, and you have high enough ceilings relative to your height, there's a lot you can do with Indian clubs that might fit the bill. It's generally like a goofy fun thing to throw into a workout plan that features bigger stuff, but I guess you could do it on its own in between.

Retrospec Steel Club SC-5lb for Men & Women's Strength Training & Full Body Workouts

Basic exercises

Eight-count push-ups.

Jesus Christ that sounds painful. How about pushups to a count of 8 instead?

Pushups alone are not very aerobic. Eight-counts get your blood flowing better than jumping jacks.

Get a beer crate/box that can support your weight. Get a rucksack and put 10-15kg in it

then step up and down on the box. You can make this as intense or as leisurely as you like.

Its very very boring but good Alpine training.

Choose any 2 of the three constraints. No seriously.

If you can live with moderately pissing off your neighbors for 15 minutes, then any HIIT split.

Unemployed for a while before I start my next job. I’m staying with family and I’ve ruled out significant travel because I want to spend time with them. But I won’t be glued to them 24/7 so I have a lot of free time. How should I spend it? More importantly, how do I hold myself to whatever I decide to do instead of watching YouTube all day?

I second the exercise suggestion but how exactly to go about it depends on your current fitness level, weather, and living environment. If you're somewhere not too cold and are not already a runner I highly suggest the couch to 5K program! Only 3 days a week and takes about 2 months to get you running 30 minutes continuously. You will be in much better cardio shape by the end.

Reading more books is another idea. To avoid distractions, take a physical book or a dedicated ereader without web browsing capabilities to a coffeeshop and read a few hours a day. Maybe bring a notebook to reflect on what you're reading.

Exercise? Exercise! Go outside!

How to hold yourself to it: Loudly announce to your family what you intend to do and what they are to playfully punish you with if you don't go through with it.

Seconding this.

You may also want to try to look at it as an experiment: a couple of weeks where you can really test how far you can optimize this particular human being. How far can you drive it? Grow its muscles? Strengthen its tendons? Find the optimal sleep/eat/workout plan?

This sort of curiosity got my 5k time from 30 minutes to 23 in the span of a month. It was also great fun--both mentally and physically.

Any little home improvement jobs you could do around there? Good time frame for it, and will be welcome if it's your parents. (Railings on steps, non-slip surfaces, all that little stuff that helps people getting older)

Update to my FAANG stock cliff inspired interviewing:

Finance recruiters got me a bunch of interviews. Probably done half a dozen technical interviews, a few online assessments, and a dozen recruiter calls so far. The jobs all require being in person, so I was originally just doing it for laughs/ego/leverage against my current employer when I ask for a raise. But, I am shifting toward the idea that I could in fact move to NY etc and go into an office (hopefully 3 days a week). I guess I'd rent out the house I finally bought, ugh.

Current job will be 230k post-cliff, down from 390, with the final numbers coming out in march. Finance could be 500-1M. Idk if 500 is worth the risk/cold/commute, since that's still in territory of possible at FAANG within a few years. But much past that, and I think it's hard to say no. Finance could also be interesting, which FAANG is not, at least on my current team.

I also applied to the ~20 top paying (per tech companies. Some aren't hiring, some rejected outright, and a few scheduled tech screens. Plenty have ignored me so far (but three days week of Thanksgiving doesn't say much).

Grinding leetcode is a pain. I have to stop myself from trying to write everything as elegantly as possible (hello "yield from"), so I can instead shit out Python as fast as possible. If I could just stop choking on off by one bugs...

Leetcode is unendingly boring, and I’m happy I don’t have to do it as (at very most) a hobbyist. I’m sure it makes people better programmers, and sometimes I certainly wish I could quickly write actually good Python code instead of trial and error and stackoverflow-ing it, but I have a limited attention span and I think one does want to avoid the risk that a hobby becomes a job (part of the reason I play MMOs but avoid the endgame grind).

NYC is very fun. It will be a totally different life compared to WFH (or even being in an office) anywhere else in the country, but you’ll have a good time if you’re interested in more social or cultural stuff. Not that you have to be, I spent 10 years as a teen and young adult there largely within a ten-block radius of my parents’ house and with the same six friends, but you’ll enjoy it more if you are.

Leetcode is unendingly boring

So you have come around.

I remember you saying a few months ago that you don't find the idea of leetcode all that bad.

The ‘fun puzzle’ nature of it is ground down with time, at least IMHO!

Leetcode questions are puzzles with a lot more constraints than initially meets the eyes.

And they usually require you do have certain algorithms and "tricks" memorised. There was a time in college when I was preparing for that years IEEE Xtreme and could pump out leetcode questions all day. Unfortunately I have to out myself as a brainlet and confess that I don't remember how I solved some of those questions at all, Some of my own code looks like ancient Chinese to me now.

Asking a programmer to solve leetcode is akin to asking a professional engineer to solve differential equations by hand again like he did in college.

I'm sure some of the FAANG 550k base, 500k in stocks, PhD by the age of 18, posters can't relate, but eh.

I rarely ever get sick, so on the rare occasion I do, it feels like the end of the world.

Instead of just staying low for a few days, I have decided that I will declare war on getting a cold and make some big lifestyle changes, basically... to never catch a cold ever again.

Im having a tremendously difficult time finding any information on how to strengthen the immune system. No one gives any numbers, any citacions, nothing. Its all very hand wavy. (I am aware steps need to be taken to prevent it from worsening from baseline as well, those steps are already being taken.)

If anyone here did something that worked, please let me know.

Alternatively, I also just want a strong immune system for QOL reasons.

I don't want to remember if I washed my hands 6 hours ago before rubbing my eyes, I want to pet cats and dogs (and maybe foxes and weasels, half joking) on the street, I want to stay out in cold weather for long periods of time, etc.

Garlic, vitamin D, and zinc are your best bets. Maybe increase your intake if beta glucans and probiotics as well

I don't think this will work. Almost everyone gets sick sometimes. Also, the cold refers to many different viruses - "Well over 200 virus strains are implicated in causing the common cold, with rhinoviruses, coronaviruses, adenoviruses and enteroviruses being the most common". Why would taking a supplement or something nuke all of those?

The immune system has (middle school biology handwaving here) two components - adaptive and innate. Adaptive - virus replicates, immune system detects it, creates antibodies specialized to it, antibodies detect small-scale characteristics of it and destroy virus. Innate - more general response to broad signs of infection. These are all quite complicated - it's hard to imagine a way of 'boosting' the adaptive immune system that'd make it immediately expel a virus the first time it's encountered. And the innate immune system is useful, but it's not enough on its own (hence adaptive). The immune system has balances many things - how quickly you clear a disease sure, but also resource use, avoiding attacking nothing or autoimmunity, etc. And every ancient mammal that died of disease served as selection pressure, giving something that's well optimized! Would a supplement that helps with one variety of cold necessarily help with another?

I too declared war on my colds. No citations, but I swear by zinc and vitamin D. I also shower differently.


Literally the moment I realize the inside back of my nose feels dry or achey and I’m not just thirsty, I take a zinc pill.

Zinc gluconate 50mg, Walgreens brand, has the best effect on me. I’ve found that if I take it soon enough, my body doesn’t even go into the cold immune cycle. Usually I’m not quite that quick, and I skip past the misery of the first day right into the recovery where it’s just a runny nose for half a week.

Last October, I had the worst cold I’ve had in a decade, and I’d switched to a multivitamin. I was aching and congested, coughing, in pain and wanting relief ASAP. I went to Walgreens, bought their zinc, and took two in the car on the way home. Within half an hour, I was already in the recovery phase with no aches or sinus pain. That was the day I vowed to always have zinc gluconate on hand.

I take zinc at least once a week to bolster my immune system (never on an empty stomach, it causes vomiting, a heaping spoonful of peanut butter is enough to eliminate nausea).

Vitamin D:

I found out last July I have a vitamin D deficiency, so I started taking five standard pills daily when I wake up. The main effect was the opposite of melatonin: I come awake fully and am not fatigued during the day, despite not being a morning person. I cannot gauge its effect on my colds.


Since people deficient in Zinc and D have the worst COVID outcomes, I started taking both after a doctor told me I was deficient. I credit this regimen for my surviving COVID-19 last November without Long COVID. It was also the recommendation of my parents’ doctor, along with ivermectin and vitamin C. Despite my father being in his 70’s and being obese and pre-diabetic, he also survived without Long COVID.

I believe that to have been the Wuhan or Delta variants. This August, I caught Omicron, and my regimen was zinc and D at each meal, and a walk outside in sunlight at least 15 minutes each day, plus tonic water. I was over it in 2 days and didn’t start coughing.


I used to get really bad chest colds, but then I realized I should stop breathing in through my nose during showers when I have a cold. Since then, it’s not progressed beyond a head cold except once. (See last Oct., above.)

I also only breathe out through my nose when showering or in humidity even when I don’t have a cold; I assume there are always viral particles caught in my nose hair.

(However, breathing through my mouth means I can swallow soap/shampoo surficants, which can cause physical diarrhea. I have to spit all my saliva and not swallow it while showering if I’m mouth-breathing. A minor inconvenience compared to not catching colds very often.)


Even though the Zinc and D keep me relatively healthy during cold recoveries, good ol’ DayQuil and NyQuil keep me from congesting beyond a runny nose.

Vitamin D:

I take 20k IU pills once a week. And a 2k IU pill on days I rarely see the sun. I might still be deficient because of generally low sun exposure (and not much exogenous vit d from diet), but I don't think I am that deficient.

Zinc gluconate 50mg:

Seems cheap enough.

I'm gonna head to the pharmacy and pick up a bottle.

E - Got a 75mg/tablet zinc gluconate, popped the pill after a meal, actually feeling better (30 minutes in), don't care if its placebo, at least not feeling like shit.

DayQuil and NyQuil

Thing I hate about most brand name cough medicines is that they are loaded with acetaminophen. That restricts the effective dose I can take. Dayquil and Nyquil have 650mg/30ml of acetaminophen. The max (recommended) dose of acetaminophen per day is 4,000mg. So I can take, max, 6 doses of Dayquil/nyquil per day. And since so many other products (my favourite being NeoCitran) are jammed full of acetaminophen, that makes juggling things even worse. The cold I just got over also came with an unpleasant bout of diarrhea, and adding Pepto Bismol (also loaded with acetaminophen) probably would have killed my liver, lol.

Primary ingredients for Dayquil are acetaminophen, dextromethorphan (cough suppressant) and phenylephrine (decongestant). You can find dextromethorphan (DM) in most store brand cough syrups, without the acetaminophen and other crap. This allows you to take more without having acetaminophen acting as a false limit on the dose.

There's debate over whether phenylephrine (decongestant) actually works; it's just so old that the FDA doesn't really give a shit, especially since cough medicines have used it to replace the 'evil' pseudoephedrine (which addicts use to make meth, because the shit works). So it's better to get just dextromethorphan and buy pseudoephedrine separately. Pseudoephedrine will keep you awake, and probably far better than phenylephrine does. It sucks that drug addicts existing means cough syrups are made to be worse (yet it's ok to load up cough syrups with so much acetaminophen that anybody who abuses it, or just takes too much during a really bad cold, can fuck their liver permanently, and maybe even die). I believe Sudafed (the most well known pseudoephedrine brand) contains a bunch of acetaminophen.

For Nyquil, the main ingredients are (again) acetaminophen, dextromethorphan for cough, and doxylamine as an antihistamine. Doxylamine helps with runny nose and also aids in putting you to sleep. Again, I'd suggest getting these ingredients separately. You can find doxylamine in many different products, from sleep aids to allergy medications. If you can get it without a bunch of other crap, then you can better dose depending on your symptoms.

Some cough syrups also have guaifenesin in with the DM. It's an expectorant that helps loosen up the mucus in your chest so you can clear a cough better. This is great if you have a wet cough, since a suppressant alone can be pretty unpleasant, as you need to cough to clear stuff from your chest.

Pepto shouldn’t have acetaminophen in it afaik

Could have sworn my bottle said it did. I'll have to look later, but I got a new batch and tossed the old bottle. So unless they used to, or it was some 'extra super duper strength' thing, you're probably right.

The most infuriating thing, looking at the smart label linked on their website, is the description when clicking on 'Bismuth Subsalicylate'.

Bismuth Subsalicylate 525 Mg

Upset Stomach Reliever And Antidiarrheal

Active Ingredient That Relieves The Stated Symptoms (Heartburn, Indigestion, Nausea, Upset Stomach, Diarrhea)

Why would they do this? lol

What recreational drugs do you use for recreation/relaxation/health?

I drink alcohol frequently but don't necessarily think it improves my health. It can be fun though.

I drink caffeine daily, and eat cannabis gummies every now and then. I have to do it at home with minimal distractions though, or the anxiety gets me. Pot helps a lot with muscular awareness I've found.

I've had a lot of profound experiences with psychedelics but have had a lot of trouble finding them in the last few years. I've recently been experiminting with DXM (tablets - I don't recommend chugging syrup when you can buy it on Amazon) and it has been nice and euphoric. Less profound than LSD or shrooms but still fun.

I take an excedrin (which I believe is mostly caffeine) semi-frequently for headaches.

I’ve tasted alcohol a handful of times but always found it unpleasant. I tried chewing tobacco once but it made me feel very unpleasantly lightheaded. I tried cigarettes once and felt nothing, only coughed a bit. I once walked into a flavored hookah place but the smell was unbearable so I left without trying it. I tried coffee maybe once, but found nothing worth repeating about it. I’ve had a fair number of caffeinated sodas in my life, but I never noticed any effect and the caffeine free versions taste the same to me, so I prefer those given the choice. Never tried marijuana because the smell is so awful I wouldn’t want to ruin my clothes or car with it. Never tried any harder drugs because I have never encountered their usage. I have tasted tea on a handful of occasions but it just tastes like warm perfumed water to me, nothing pleasant about it, if it had caffeine I didn’t notice any effect. Never tried 5 hour energy or red bull or any of those hyper-caffeinated things. Never tried any of those ADHD meds like adderall or whatever as I have never met anyone recreationally using them.

Wow you seem to have stumbled into an almost ascetic lifestyle. That’s great if it works for you, more power to you bud!

I’m curious, what do you do to indulge if not substances?

Caffeeine: A pot or two every day. I water mine down to a degree that people joke about it, but a low amount of actual caffeeine is enough for the addiction and the large volume means I stay somewhat hydrated. Placebo effect does the rest. I enjoy drinking coffee while working, and am thus too distracted to notice the watery taste.

Alcohol: Only socially. Mostly beer, and in moderation. I very rarely have a glass of whisky when the mood strikes me, and only if I actually have some at home that someone gave to me - I don't buy any myself.

And that's it. I'm growing oldish and need to go easy on my body.

What recreational drugs do you use for recreation/relaxation/health?

  • Caffeine - I drink tea to wake up. Abhor the taste of coffee even though I'm aware that it does a better job.

  • Nicotine - I'm addicted. I used to smoke a pack or two a day. Switched to vaping and never looked back. I use a fairly (very) strong 50mg/ml vape juice. I take hits of it every 10-15 minutes. I'm aware that is far too much and plan to wean it down to maybe once every two hours. I have no plans of ever getting entirely off nicotine, it helps me function too well; Could be totally placebo.

  • Alcohol - Fuck no. I became a compulsive drinker in college (5-6 shots every day, much much more on the weekends). I didn't have a drop of booze in the last 6 or so months and I plan to maintain that for the rest of my life. I don't feel the need to consume alcohol and I suppose things are better off staying that way. The productivity hit of even a mild buzz is far too consequential imo, ballmers peak be damned.

If you ever wonder why I replied late to a post here. *

I vape a fair amount of weed during a typical week. I have found that different strains produce vastly different experiences, from edibles that produce couch lock and near hallucination watching the Burton Dr. Faustus; to bud that's great for working out or cleaning the house or walking a (taps username) while listening to the entirety of Evgeny Onegin on my headphones if I get the dose right. Lately, I've loved getting blasted and going to the symphony or the opera. It helps get the layer of irony out of my mind. I have an effortpost coming about how marijuana is the conservatives drug.

I drink much more occasionally, I might be drunk once a month or so, always socially. I love whiskey, scotch or bourbon or local rye, on the rocks; I love a good fruity bitch drink of a rum or tequila cocktail; lately at home when I want one to relax after work I have a cordial glass of a local absinthe, I always thought it was bullshit but stuff just hits different, I'm fucked up on one shot glass worth.

Since we're including caffeine, between 6-615 every morning I play barista for my wife, which in turn means I'm also drinking a double espresso sorority girl latte. It's fall, so lately it's lots of maple brown sugar, or toffee nut, my wife also makes an amazing pumpkin spice syrup from scratch (including actual pumpkin).

I've dabbled with mild stimulants including kratom and Moda. Kratom has never given me much beyond a mild buzz and a sense of energy, good for getting through a workout or cleaning the house, but nothing crazy. Moda has been great so far, I take half a pill when I'm low on sleep and it gets this very pure level of wakeful energy that's really nice. I might experiment with taking more at a time at some point. So far that's more like occasionally, once a fortnight, type stuff.

I'll also note, I took NAC for a while as a dietary supplement. The first few times I took it, it created an almost euphoric high energy level; then it didn't seem to do anything. Idk what the deal is with that.

Oh and nicotine. I have a vape I use every now and then on long drives to keep my hands busy, but maybe twice a month. And every two months or so I'll settle down on my porch with a good book and a good cigar to relax.

  • It blew my mind when I learned the original lyrics were by Shel Silverstein, the favorite poet of my childhood.

Ahh I forgot to mention kratom. I've had a similar experience as you, it's nice before a workout or something but nothing crazy like many enthusiasts claim. I still use it regularly.

Yeah it's underwhelming on balance. And I've heard of bad sexual side effects from regular use. Guys talk about great effects from taking like 8 capsules at a time, but I'm not particularly interested to try that tbh. Just two every now and then for the kick. I figure it's better to rotate anyway to avoid tolerance.

1x fry stick

2-3x 12 oz. lager

everyday. perfect crossfade. the Texan’s natural state of mind

What’s a fry stick?

Caffeine, since I drink a ton of tea in the day.

No alcohol. A lot of weed, but that's partly because it doubles as a more convenient sleep aid than seroquel. I enjoy it but I get sleepier than I remember when I was younger.

Booze and pot mostly, been cutting back on both for the sake of my waist line. I've tried most things, and am not much of a fan of uppers. I'd probably do hallucinagenics more if they were more available. If I really wanted them I know who to talk to but even that friction is enough that I don't bother if that gives you any indication of how much I like them.

If you smoke pot right after having a meal, the temptation to have munchies will be minimal.

looking for career device.

i am a midlevel professional in my mid 30s, my work is essentially in business operations type roles in midsized organization. In addition to inflation kicking my butt this year, I have small children and will likely have more, whom I intend to send to private school. So I simply need to make more money. Right now, with school budgeted we're deep in the red. We spend more than we earn.

My goal has been to move up (or parallel with a reset inflation adjusted salary) in mid-level manager type roles within business /sales operations functions. (I have some management experience on my resume. I am technically a 'manager' now, but have no direct reports at the moment).

So i've recently been applying around (internally and externally) and gotten no luck. I realize that in business / sales roles, I am outcompeted by folks with field sales and sales management experience or MBAs. (I have a master's degree in something that gets me through initial hiring process gates, but isn't particularly an impressive competitive advantage).

In product or development management roles, I am not competitive because i don't have any technical experience on my resume.

So I basically have four options:

  1. Keep grinding through interviews until I get lucky

  2. Go get an MBA, take on a lot of debt, and hope to come out in a place to rapidly make it up.

  3. Jump down to field sales and climb back up through there back into business side/ management. My fear with this one is that I won't be competitive for any except pretty much entry level account executive roles. I'd essentially be starting over, but might see a big momentum gain /jump when I got back to the middle.

  4. Move into software dev. In school I was originally a CS major, I held a few programming internships, etc. before switching to a pipedream (long dead). Recently I've developed some React apps on my own, but I am not at a college grad level in terms of skill. I know both that I am capable of programming job, but also not a prodigy, and to invest back into this without a degree and with small kids to raise might be a barrier. Once again, I would have to start at the bottom, salary and level and work back up. But the upside here is better salary bands. (at a manager level, I currently make what devs from state U are coming in at).

Right now, I am just trying to maximize earning potential in the near, mid, and long term to take care of my family. Every single one of these seems like bad options. All of these come with a lot of sunk cost and uncertainty for a guy in the middle of the game.

But I am kind of at a loss and have about 0 months to make a plan so that I can afford to send my kids to school.

How much are you making now?

What range MBA are you looking at? Top 10 schools close to guarantee a good salary but admissions are tough, tuition cost will be six figures, and you would need to relocate for 2 years.

One option you might not have considered is technical sales. You could leverage your CS degree and your ability to deal with/manage people here. I'm a sales engineer about your age and make enough to send my three kids to private school if I wanted to. I'm a mediocre programmer and have an irrelevant bachelor's degree. I understand enough of the tech and can program enough to build demos and tools for customers, but that's about it.

If you've got people skills, you could try to work as an junior sales engineer (or regular engineer) somewhere and then quickly climb the ladder or jump ship to a better paying sales engineering role. Good sales engineers are really hard to find since it's kind of a weird skillset.

This is something my wife has suggested. About four years ago I almost made the switch to get into this at my previous employer. I had gone as far as getting technical certifications for their product. But before I got an opening I was recruited away to my current role, doubling down on business operations stuff.

This is good to hear. Do you think sales engineering is hard to come into of you aren't already in the company / have experience with their solutions? What would get me looked at from the outside?

Conversation skills and general people skills are the most important. You can turn a intelligent and curious sales person into a sales engineer, but it seems nearly impossible to teach a highly intelligent and skilled engineer people skills.

Straight up sales experience is great, if you have it. Also, I'd play up times where you advocated for something within your company or with a client. Bonus points if you can quantify the impact of your efforts. More bonus points if you can describe successfully navigating a complex problem with a customer or another team -- what was the problem and how did you scope it? Who were the stakeholders and how did you identify them? Did you define clear success/fail criteria to asses the results of your work on the problem? How do you handle customer objections? Are you good at asking questions to discover what the customer really needs (because often customers have misidentified their own problems)? Any stories you can share that answer these questions will help you.

For the technical side, you'll just have to target companies whose product seems "crammable," for lack of a better word. This depends on your technical chops. You have a CS degree, so I'm assuming you can probably figure things out on your own and teach yourself, if so there are a lot of companies available to yoy. Sign up for a free trial of their software, play around with it, read the docs, see if it's something you can learn or whether you're in way over your head (but tbh you'll feel like you're in a little over your head no matter what -- that's normal). Make sure you do the obvious stuff like reading the site's main homepage, the "About Us" page, etc. You'd be surprised how many people show up to interviews poorly informed about the company and/or the product.

I'd also at least skim "Mastering Technical Sales: The Sales Engineer's Handbook". It's no-nonsense and not as dry as it sounds. It will give you a good idea of the sorts of problems and questions that SEs have and give you an idea of whether it's something you want to do or not.

as a coda here, unfornately I don't actually hold a CS degree. I switched majors halfway through. Nor do I ahve prior sales experience.

I am pretty confident, I could do (and enjoy) technical sales, as I peruse job listings, I am doubtful about getting to an initial interview with my background. I've put this to the test by applying to several, but I am not hopeful.

A path to Sales engineering looks like I'll have to come up through strategy 3 or 4 above anyway (entry level sales or entry level software dev). We'll see, I guess

I'm not sure I can say much about your career beyond "#1 is the 'success story' I hear most often."

Given the discussion of children I assume you have a spouse. Are they employed? If not, why private school? Why not homeschool? If you and your spouse are both employed, the price tag of private school for multiple children could rapidly outstrip the kind of salary it sounds like you're drawing. That means it would be cheaper for you to quit and homeschool your children--to say nothing of the savings in other areas, like transportation, wardrobe, food preparation, etc. Homemakers (who take their task seriously) represent household economic value measuring well into six figures easily, particularly if you've got more than 2 or 3 children you want to keep out of the public school system.

It would also be useful to know (roughly) where you live and to what extent you're willing to relocate. What's the price of moving to a really good neighborhood with exemplary public schools? Have you looked into charter schools, or Arizona's recent voucher expansion?

If you're living in, like, London and you've hand-picked some insanely amazing private school, but you're having trouble finding a way to pay for it, my advice would probably be more along the lines of "you need to lower your expectations and learn to live within your means." Finding a way to earn more money is not your only option; finding a way to live with less is also something you should consider. But if you're living in urban Denver and just can't imagine sending your children to your awful neighborhood school, you actually have a ton of options (especially if you're willing and able to relocate) that don't require you to dramatically increase your salary in a short period of time.

my wife doesn't work, but wants to go back when kids are a bit older and that will alleviate the money problem to some degree. Homeschooling might be the default choice if we can't make the budget work otherwise. perhaps, i gave too much circumstantial detail. What i am trying to get at is I'm looking for a way to kickstart my earning potential, but can't crater it in the short term to do so, and i'm not hung up on a lot of other "job satisfaction" criteria beyond balancing family life.

I'm willing to do extra work, but want to find a strategy that will pay off well.

My big fear with #1 above is that even if I find a modest improvement that I may have hit a plateau or ceiling and digging in will only lose more time as I'm already mid 30s. As far as I can tell, it will be a long time with no guarantees to hit director level title/salaries internally, and externally I'm not competitive enough to up-jump levels.

On the other end of the spectrum, my fear with #4 is that I'm too old and established to make a major restart even if its at the bottom of a more lucrative ladder.

Im most curious about folks here in software dev roles' thoughts. especially if you got into it later

#2 and #3 are somewhere in between, strategies that might set me back temporarily, but with the goal of kickstarting momentum in hopes of reaching escape velocity in my current track. The big risk here is that I waste a lot of slack adn resources in the near term only to not succeed or blow up on the launchpad.

Homemakers (who take their task seriously) represent household economic value measuring well into six figures easily,

Any sources for this? I haven't seen that claim before and I'm curious to see how you would get to that number.

Any sources for this?

Just math and life experience, really. Private school tuition is ~$12,000 annually in the U.S., though it can be a lot more--up to $60,000 annually. Two kids in a top tier private school and your homemaker is already clocking in over six figures. Four kids at an average-priced private school puts us at a homeschool value of $48,000 annually.

The average commercially-prepared meal costs about $13. A nutritious meal for a family of four is easily prepared at home for $20 plus prep time, and with skill, knowledge, and appropriate tools can be prepared for half that without much difficulty. Easy-prep meals are cheaper than commercially-prepared food, but more expensive than cooking from scratch. Very few people eat out every meal, so it's difficult to quantify the benefits precisely (and one of the benefits is often improved health, which reduces health care costs in the long term), but very conservatively, a homemaker should easily bring your food budget down $5,200 per year (assuming a $100/week savings) and potentially brings your food budget down much more:

  • Assume $25 food per person per day for a family of four: $36,500

  • Assume $5 food per person per day for a family of four: $7,300

  • Savings of $29,200 per year

Add two more children, and the savings from homemaking could get much higher, but if we assume even a low figure of $10,000, between private school tuition and food preparation, the hypothetical homemaker with four children is already saving the family $58,000 annually--in post-tax dollars, so in terms of salary comparison we're already over $60,000.

Ah, whoops. I forgot about after-school care! I'm assuming all four children are old enough to be enrolled in school, so I'm not including daycare costs (which are not low), but with two working parents, four children in after-school care will run you $600/week easy, or more like $2000/week for Nanny-level care. Assuming 36 weeks of school (I think that number is actually higher in many places), that's a minimum of $21,600 annually for after-school care for four children. A conscientious homemaker does better-than-Nanny level care, clocking in at an eye-popping $72,000 annually, but let's just use the lowball number.

For four children in an average American household, a homemaker would already need to be earning more than $79,600 post-tax--just to cover the stuff they can no longer do when they are employed. This might not sound like much to someone who is accustomed to working in San Francisco or Manhattan for $300,000+ per year, but don't lose sight of the fact that the median American worker earns less than $40,000 per year. And in terms of quality, compared against expensive private schooling, commercial meals, and professional nannying, the "fair market value" of conscientious homemaking is already well into the hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.

Past this point, individual circumstances matter a lot. A two-parent family with a homemaker can more easily get by with a single vehicle, for example, though where one lives will influence this possibility substantially. A homemaker doesn't need a work wardrobe, though more expensive work wardrobes typically come with higher-paying jobs, so perhaps this is a wash. And there are a number of non-economic benefits as well, whether those be improved academic achievement, greater emotional connection to your children, or just not having to answer to an employer.

For someone who hates kids or can't grasp their own self worth without a corporate stamp of approval, all of this is obviously moot. But in terms of dollars-and-cents, one would need to be at minimum a rather above-average earner before a salary could outpace the monetary value of conscientious homemaking.

I too was mistaken here but when a lot of people mention private schools they seem to mean smaller institutions in red states or non-urban parts of the country that cost like $10k a year (and are maybe partially funded by school vouchers in some cases? I’m not sure) not, like, Harvard-Westlake or Dalton.

Yeah, and OP made it a bit clearer in another comment that the point of the post is strictly to solicit career-trajectory advice, rather than to examine plans pertaining to spouse and children, so this is all rendered somewhat tangential anyway. Ah, well.

Some states do have private school vouchers of various kinds, there are also tax rebates and of course many private schools offer scholarships. It's difficult to commensurate costs and benefits in the realm of child-raising for many reasons (not that this stops anyone, including me, from trying), but one that I think COVID-driven remote work expansions really highlighted was the possibility of spending more on a house in a good school district, to spend less on private schooling. If you've only got an average number of children, this likely represents only a small savings, but if you have 4+ children (OP seems to have some children and specifies wanting "more") the savings can stack up quickly--even at only $10k/year.

This also kind of overlooks the fact that the "private school advantage" is much more legible in the UK than in the US. There are some good private K-12 schools in the US for sure, but usually when I see stark opportunity or income gaps being discussed in the literature, it's UK schools under examination. In the US, private and public charter academies vary in quality as much as, and arguably even more than, neighborhood and public magnet schools. I admit that--while there are no doubt many good counterexamples!--I personally view suburban $10k private schools as kind of weird; they don't generally appear to outperform suburban neighborhood schools (the way urban private schools are almost always superior to nearby public alternatives), so it's hard for me to see suburban private schools in the US as anything but opportunities for the middle and upper-middle classes to participate in a cargo cult of pretend-wealth.

This article suggests a sum of 180 k$/a. I think this topic was in the news a few years ago because it was "just another example of how women are being shortchanged".