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lizatola 01-22-2016 06:09 PM

OT: career advice
I'm really struggling with finding a career path. I'm basically only earning enough money to cover 1/2 of my expenses. I'm going through my savings at a good clip. I still owe $17K on my car and I have about $6K in credit card debt.

I think I will be OK financially for about another 18 months to 2 years as long as I reign in the spending, bring my lunch to work, etc. I've already cut back on cable, lowered my cell phone bill, etc.

I probably should consider renting something cheaper but I have to admit that I'm selfish and I love my house, my neighborhood, etc. It's quiet, everyone keeps their yards neat and clean, no barking dogs, super low crime rate, hiking trails right out my front door, sigh....

Currently, I'm working for a large real estate company in their corporate offices. I handle all the title closing packages, make sure we got the right amount of money and that agents get paid properly. I do mostly easy accounting and reviewing of files for our 10 branches in our state. It's easy work and I'm grateful for this transition job, after not having worked for 16 years, but I'm ready to move on and find a career path. I have my BA in communications, I was a licensed stock broker for 5 years before I had my son and have experience in finance and investing.

I have an interview next week with a financial advisory firm as a client services administrator. It would pay only $5K more a year than what I'm making now but it would be only a 15-20 minute drive instead of the 45-50 mins I'm driving now. They also would like me to consider getting licensed again, after one year of employment, and that would come with a pay raise, which has not been revealed to me yet as I have not had a formal interview. This job would be in a small firm and my prior experience was at a large national firm.

Sigh...I just don't know what my abilities are anymore. I've lost so much confidence in my job skills because I haven't worked for so long. My boyfriend thinks I'm selling myself short but he supports whatever decisions I make. I truly don't think I can go right out and find a middle management paying job after 16 years out of the workplace. I knew I would have to start from the bottom, but I'm already getting stressed about finances.

I'm also working on a freelance project for a friend and I'm hoping this writing job also contributes to my income as well as expanding my resume. I really could just use some suggestions, encouragement, etc from others who have been there.

findingme26 01-22-2016 08:09 PM

It's so hard putting yourself out there! I'm not a "horn-tooter" so I have a really hard time convincing myself that a) that job description really isn't out of my league and b) I deserve to have a nice, challenging job that pays well. If you've ever heard the term "imposter syndrome" that is completely me. My current job was a significant pay increase from where I was previously, with a lot more autonomy and responsibility. They loved me and sought me out, but it was hard for me to believe that I really was capable of it. Of course, I'm doing fine and I love the work, but changing jobs can be scary.

I don't have a lot of advice on picking out the perfect career path, but my go-to resource when job hunting is the Ask a Manager blog. She has so much great stuff on there to help with polishing up your resume, current trends and norms, interview techniques, etc. She has an e-book right now called "How to Get a Job: Secrets of a Hiring Manager" that is phenomenal. Not to mention some pretty hilarious workplace situations that people write in about for advice!

Also, you didn't ask, but I feel I would be remiss if I didn't mention the budgeting program that saved my financial life - You Need a Budget. I don't know your current system (and it might work just fine for you!), but YNAB has changed so many people's lives in amazing ways, I just have to give it a shout-out!

Good luck with your search!

FeelingGreat 01-22-2016 08:13 PM

liza, as someone who worked her way from SAHM, to manual labour, to technical labour, to office, to specialist and on to a good job, (with some studies at the same time), all I can say is you make your own opportunities. This new job sounds like just the thing because it's better money, less commute and opens up new paths.

If you're a good interested worker who knows how to use her initiative you will probably be valued and promoted by your employer if there is scope in the job for advancement. Your confidence will grow as you learn new skills and succeed at new tasks, so I wouldn't worry too much about that side of things. You'll also come across some areas that interest you more than others, and you may wish to do formal study in that area. That's how my career took off eventually.

Without running yourself ragged, be open to new opportunities presented by your work. Older women can be very skilled, reliable employees, but to generalise, as a group they often under-sell and under-value themselves.

AnvilheadII 01-22-2016 08:23 PM

break it down into small bits.....we can't fix it all in one swell foop.....

the job you have now is helping to re-build your career and provide and income stream. be GRATEFUL for that whether it is "too easy" or not. gotta stay humble. the interview you have sounds good....not a thing you can do til you are IN the interview and even then....

i was able to refinance my car loan on one of the subarus.....yes this extended a car loan for a 2008 model thru til 2015, but it also helped bring the out flow within my budget. we have two subarus, hank's is paid for (ok it WAS mine, then he got rid of his car, i "gave" him the Baja and we went and got "my" new car). we got his car paid off a couple years i so WANTED a NEW NEW car....but i resisted, kept my sedate lil grey impreza, and it gets me to work and home and never breaks down on me. i JUST paid it off so we now own BOTH cars free and clear. that is a NICE feeling.

regarding the credit card debt, put em on a spreadsheet, look at the interest rates, the payments due.....what can be paid off the soonest? what balances can be transferred to a lower interest rate card? what payment plan will give you the most bang for your buck? get you out from under sooner? what card can you take out of your wallet, cut up and not use again EVER?

if it's money, it's just math. and there is always a solution...sometimes we just have to get REAL creative. i was making my own laundry soap for a while when our finances were compromised. i started shopping at the discount grocery store, and the savings each week are HUGE. i also only shop once a week for groceries. we pack a lunch. we don't eat out often and rarely ever order pizza or other take in. we don't GO on VACATIONS.

lizatola 01-22-2016 10:04 PM

Hey, I use YNAB already, LOL!
I'm always looking for resources. Anvil, I am VERY grateful for my job, honestly. I know it's given me a good experience at just showing up, being present, learning something new, taking instruction and criticism, etc.

I'm no stranger to cutting costs, but I haven't had to do it for about 10 years now. I need to go back to all those frugal things I did before my X was making great money. I remember us living as a family of 3 on $42K a year. It was so so hard and we even managed to travel back to visit family, too. I have no idea how we did it but I budgeted every penny. I am NOT being responsible right now and I need to take ownership of that and get on with it.

My credit score is over 800 so I am looking at zero interest credit cards with low balance transfer fees to consolidate my two main cards and then I will figure out which one has the best offer for me to continue using in the future.

I know I am scared to be on my own, too. I was OK being on my own when it was just me as a single woman, but I have a pre college teen to raise and his expenses are crazy high right now. My XAH isn't exactly working with me when it comes to paying his share beyond the child support. My food budget alone makes me want to puke and I only have so many hours in the day to prepare food for lunches or eating dinner at home. I am gone 11 hours of the day and usually I can barely make spaghetti by the time I sit down to pay bills or do laundry or whatever.

I'm not complaining. I've been out of my depressing marriage for almost a year now and my life is beautiful today. I am truly blessed. I just need to get my head out of my *ss and get my finances set up and budgeted better.

dandylion 01-23-2016 01:09 AM

Liz....this is just one little, tiny, helpful hint.....but, as far as the time-food--expense challenges...I have found that my crock pot and (electric) pressure cooker are wonderful for cooking cheap (and nutritious) food fast......


redatlanta 01-23-2016 05:39 AM

I think finding the career path very important, but far less important than dealing with your financial situation. If you are taking half your living expenses out of savings that is that's a hemorrhage, and where your focus needs to be. 2 years is a blink of the eye and then all that money will be gone. To earn it back you will have to make most likely 30 - 40% above what you spent and that's on top of what it costs for you to live.

It sounds to me that the new job has the potential for you to earn far higher once you are licensed, but that the additional 5k will change very little for the time being. You need to move out of the house or bring in a paying roommate to cover the costs, trade in the car for one that is paid off with the equity or a lower payment. If you can flip the credit balance to zero great - then leave the cards at home. Forget they exist.

When I started my business we cut down on everything. Surprising to me our largest cost was food because we seldom eat out. However, I shopped often and at the most convenient grocery including the high end specialty groceries. There were months that my grocery bill was close to my mortgage payment. So I started shopping at a grocer known for lower pricing joining their "discount" card and also doing online coupons. I cannot describe how "NOT ME" this was. The savings have been huge we have cut costs at the LEAST by half and some months more. I shop once a week, and meal plan. We also eat leftover's now and we didn't used to. Meal planning is imperative to cutting costs on food, and Dandy has a great suggestion in crock pot meals. I cook two large meals on Sunday generally speaking a pot of soup and a pot roast, spaghetti, etc. that will serve 2 - 4 of my meals a week. We also paid off all debt except the house. Now the money flow is very high in relation to cost of living. Tempting to go back to the old ways of convenience at times but NOPE. I get Anvil and the new car deal - I spun my head around this week at a new BMW and though "hmmm I deserve that". Not going there, I'll keep my paid off 7 year old Acura and drive it till the wheels fall off!!! In the meantime our savings is fat and happy and finally I'm catching up on what was lost in the recession in retirement (still a long way off).

So I guess I haven't been very helpful about your career path! That's because other things are more important and living in the "now" rather than "I plan on making more in the future to cover all this cost so I can stay here" is a poor financial decision. I believe your BF is correct that you underestimate yourself.

Question you don't answer is what are you passionate about? Do you want to go back into finance? Did you love being a stockbroker?

CodeJob 01-23-2016 07:03 AM


You are clearly living beyond your means. You have the financial education to know better, so this is an emotional thing you'll need to work out.

The interview sounds promising. A 5K raise is quite good. I think you are assessing the position expecting it to fill all of your economic needs, but that is not realistic. I think you've only been back at work a few years and the opportunity should be judged as a stepping stone. New people, new company, get your licenses back - then see what will unfold...

As for food - Snag your green grocery bags, a quarter for the cart, and go to Aldis. They have turned into a little Mecca of organic and fairly healthy options.

Hawkeye13 01-23-2016 07:40 AM

It is painful, but I agree with others that you are living way beyond what you
can afford and it seems you know it but are understandably reluctant to take some painful cuts.

A car carrying that much debt isn't smart.
I paid cash for the car I drive now--a very nice "vintage" Caddy
which was well-maintained and garage kept.
The classic "old lady" car which sold for over 40,000 and still drives like that.
I paid $1850 and it is a dream. Thank you Craigslist.

In Florida, without salty roads and with all the retired folks,
you should be able to find something like that in a heartbeat on Craigslist,
take it to a mechanic and have it checked out first for peace of mind,
and you'll have an excellent, reliable, luxury vehicle which will run forever
for less around 3-5 thousand.
It won't be new, but who cares?

You may need to move someplace cheaper and deal with barking dogs
and messy lawns.
I also use my crock pot and cook on the weekends to take to work as leftovers.
I buy in bulk and repackage from my local Sam's club--good food like wild-caught seafood,
hormone free chicken, organic baby lettuce and because of the value
it is much less expensive than the local markets.
I get some nice spices and staple pantry items on Amazon Subscribe-n-save.
take my lunch and keep staples like pouches of salmon etc. in my desk.
I also haven't taken a vacation in a very long time.

I did this to get out of debt, and it's working really really well.
Next month, I will, for the first time, be paying no credit card interest whatsoever.
I am building a savings again, and have had about a grand at the end of each month
to put towards paying off debt and making higher payments on my home loan
to get that knocked out much quicker than the minimum payment.
I have a personal loan to pay back, and that is high priority and then I'm
going to take a nice vacation and save up to buy a newer car with cash.

Yes, sometimes I splurge and get lunch out (never dinner) or order some groovy
workout clothes on Amazon, but mostly I think about financial freedom and peace
and resist.

It was hard to buckle-down at first Liz, and because you've done it before,
you know the drill, but the options are so much better for things like food shopping
and used car purchase owner-to-owner, you will be amazed
at how much better your quality of life will be than when you had to economize
Seriously--with bulk buying I can eat scallops for not much more than ground beef.

Saving your savings while you retool your career should be the prioity, as Red says.
Take the plunge and you won't regret it.

lizatola 01-23-2016 07:41 AM

Thanks everyone for the feedback. Yes, I loved being a broker. I found a passion for the field when I worked as a temp at Alex Brown & Sons in Baltimore and then when I moved to Phoenix I temped at Schwab in institutional services and they hired me and licensed me after a few months.

And, as a financial person, I know where I'm bleeding right now. I have a champagne taste, but now I'm on a beer budget. I have already chosen where I need to cut back. I just reworked the numbers this AM and found that with the new job (provided I get it) plus the child support I'll be receiving I will be making exactly enough to cover my's the kicker....BEFORE TAXES, lol. So, that definitely does not equate to half of my living expenses. I think the fact that I was trying to throw extra cash at my car payment every month was lowering my savings and making my budget wonky. If I leave the car payment as is, then I have a better 'view' on the budget itself. The car does need to be paid off and I have considered getting something else but I did put an extended warranty on this thing until it hits 125K miles so I was hoping to drive it for a long time. I have 49K miles on it now and haven't had one problem with it and just put new tires on last month.

I used to be so good at managing our finances, you know? I had no debt except for our house. It's hard for me to accept where I am today and I need to get smart and quick. I will have to start budgeting in to pay down the credit card debt as well, because I really don't want to see that grow any bigger than it already is. I stopped using the credit cards last month and my goal this year is to knock it all down after consolidating this year.

We do not have Aldi's around here, I have heard they are a great discount grocer. I shop at Walmart or Target using coupons. I cook in bulk on the weekends and I use my crock pot all the time. I know I was building my closet, my shoes for work and the corporate life, and then I'd buy my lunch every day, etc. I also have a Starbucks habit that I need to kick. Granted it's only a tea, but at $3 a day, it adds up in a month to about $50....for TEA!!! Ugh, I hate it when I get all math-y and start running my bottom line numbers....

And, I'm downplaying the 2 years thing. I actually could stretch my savings to 3.5 years and that's before I even think about touching retirement money which is a healthy sum right now, as well. I just know how easy it is to let money slip through our fingers so I cut that number down to 2 years just to wrap my brain around it and to push me into a scarcity mentality. I hate to do that to myself but it keeps me motivated.

Also, I have only been working for 7 months right now. CodeJob referenced the fact that I've been working for a few years. I have only been at my new job since June.

Hawkeye13 01-23-2016 07:50 AM

Yeah, I got a pretty glass Japanese teapot with infuser for my office
and a filter cone and grinder for coffee. For about five bucks I added
a "frother" gadget and got a box of half-and half single servers at Sams
that don't need refrigeration.

Now I can make Starbucks but better at my desk--with less sugar and
using better quality (organic) coffees and teas.
I estimate .50 per serving or less.

I'm stupid cheap--it's my Scottish soul I suppose :)

BUT, I also have expensive taste I can't afford at the moment.
But I'll get there, by golly. . .

Hangnbyathread 01-23-2016 08:03 AM

If it makes you feel any better, many are suffering from under-employed since the crash of the 2006-8 years. It may take you awhile to get back to where you were. Welcome to the what a lot of us have to go through.

And the financial jobs are probably even more hard to climb back into again.

AnvilheadII 01-23-2016 09:00 AM

must echo others on a crock pot!!! slap a pot roast in there, add a packet of onion soup mix, water, set it, and you have dinner pretty much ready to go when you get home! oh sure it makes the "foodie" in you cringe a bit, but hey its REALLY good! LOL and using crock pot liners makes clean up a snap.

also a food saver vacuum sealer is essential if you buy in bulk....portion things off, seal em up, and into the freezer they go! and if you arrange things right in the bag before sealing, you get nice flat packets that stack up nicely in the freezer. and they thaw quicker. and you avoid the dreaded food frost bite!

we have our phone plans thru Virgin Mobile, $35/mo, unlimited data. my phone doesn't need to be able to move a satellite in space!!!

we drink Folgers coffee, for God's sake. :dee

a lot of it is MINDSET.....instead of feeling like i'm missing out or being punished, i see it as a challenge, a game almost.....being frugal. that's not to say that i don't splurge a bit now and then.....fave impulse buy is a new candle for the house. or the madison-reed DIY hair color, which is FABULOUS - rather than spending major $$$ at the salon.

lizatola 01-23-2016 10:36 AM

Love this thread you guys! It's become a great starter for talking about frugal living and saving.

One of the things I love most about my new bf is that he's as frugal as I am. He is not cheap, but he's frugal and has even gotten rid of cable and his gym membership recently even though he technically can afford them. So, we do a lot of eating in now, we both enjoy cooking for each other, and we do low cost stuff with the kids like hiking, playing football in the park, etc. We both like nice things and will splurge on a dinner out about once a month but really, we have been homebodies quite a bit more and I think it's nice to have that in common.

I am making chili today and will be making a few other dishes to help me make it through the week.

One of my faves I call 'egg muffin cups'. I grease up muffin tins, mix up about 7 eggs, a cup of torn spinach or leftover veggies, some cooked breakfast sausage, and some shredded cheese, salt and pepper. I pour the mixture into muffin tins and bake at 350 for a half hour. These keep me filled up at work until around 10:30 or so and then i will eat a yogurt or food bar or apple as an AM snack. I just have to be better about bringing my lunch!

dandylion 01-23-2016 10:58 AM

My Christmas treat for myself, this year, was an ELECTRIC pressure cooker.
I had an old fashioned one....the kind used on top of the stove...
But, the electric one is soo much easier to use...and it has digital programming, so you don't have to "watch it".....
I can't tell you how much I am in love with it! It is so fast!
For example....I can buy a bag of dried pinto beans for about 80cents....and, make a whole pot in 25 minutes......then, use the beans in all sorts of tex-mex foods for several days....

I got it for about half-price on e-bay (it had been used only once)......


maia1234 01-23-2016 10:59 AM

I wouldn't worry about it. You know your numbers. It is January, set a goal for a year from now, where you want to be. You sound very responsible and I am sure that if you pay a little extra towards the 18% cc debit instead of the 5% car payment those cc will get paid off. Give the cc a big boost every month and maybe it can cut in 1/2 by December. Set a goal.

I know that you would like to stay in your home but I moved into a town home, 12 houses away from my old home. (same location) Its just a little smaller square footage then my home. I love it. I have 2 bedroom 3 bath, living room, large kitchen and finished basement. I had to give up a family room, and dining room. I am very comfortable, and bills are cheaper. Unless your boyfriend moves in and helps with the rent, living how you were living as a married couple is probably not sustainable.

I am very budget minded. I have no retirement so I am saving 20% of my paycheck now for the next 16 years so that I maybe able to retire some day. I am very frugal, as I budget 100 a month for Christmas, so I don't get hit. I shop at the goodwill for clothes as there are all name brand stuff and purchased all my furniture for my new place at estate sales. Way better furniture then I could have gotten from Target at the same cost.

There are many options for you to thrive!! Good for you for trying to live with in your means!!

lizatola 01-24-2016 09:00 AM

Thank You Maia! I needed some encouraging words because I'm doing a very good job at beating myself up.

I did go to my credit union yesterday and asked what documentation they needed to get me into a refi on the car loan. I'm at 4.5% right now and I think they can offer me just under 3%. Plus I originally financed about $4K more than what I owe now so hopefully I can at least lower the payment while I work towards paying it off.

I also called a new credit card company and transferred 90% of my credit card debt to a zero interest card for the next 21 months. That gives me a chance to pay down debt without interest charges accruing.

I also called Verizon and set up my company discount. I had to wait until I had 6 months of employment to do so and I finally got that done, too. AND, I called the cable company and got rid of HBO and Showtime. They had offered me a deal and I knew my first year would expire soon and my rate would go up so I got it lowered just in time. I still think I'll cancel cable in a few months completely but for now I'm saving about 30$ a month from what I was already paying.

Right now, I will be staying put in my home. My biggest problem with moving is that I don't have a solid employment history. This place was the only landlord/leasing company who would even entertain renting to me last year. It's the main reason I chose this house. Even apartment complexes had balked at my application. I was just at the point of calling my mom to see if she'd be a co-signer on my lease. I haven't had to ask my parents for anything like that since I was in college! It was humbling.

Anyway, until I have more employment under my belt I don't see moving as a viable option. I'm just going to have to find smarter ways to cut costs and save money, which I'm already working on obviously.

redatlanta 01-24-2016 09:58 AM

Awesome Lady! I highly suggest looking into Roku or another streaming device. We lowered out cable down to the economy package and got a Roku with subscription to netflix and amazon. The savings is about $120 a month from premium cable package even with netflix and Amazon subscription cost.

I disagree with you about your rental options. You were unemployed last time, now you aren't. You have an over 800 credit score - you would be able to move with no issues Liz. Most of the time if they are concerned they will take an additional sec. deposit. They may ask for a referral from your current landlord. It sounds like you are looking for justification to stay, to be honest, when you know its eating up your savings. 800 + credit score is a rare bird.

Its your money to do with as you please I am glad you love it. I hope you get the new job!

ubntubnt 01-24-2016 10:14 AM

hi Liz, just reading your posts here it doesn't seem like you have a spending issue. It seems more like an earnings issue. You had a good career before, you know you can do it and you are smart and articulate. You have a skill set that many employers would be more than happy to have in their business. You have only been back at work for 7 months after a long time away so I think you are putting yourself under too much pressure right now. Maybe think in terms of annual goals rather than monthly etc.

You could decide for the next 12 months for example to pare everything back to the bone but keep the house for example. It could be argued that you can't afford the house but lets not go there right now. There may be no need to. Forget about taxes and you pension savings, they are largely irrelevant right now. You take home and your expenses are all that matter. You need to get your spending under your take home and clear the credit cards first and refinance the car loan. I know you could argue its better to do the car first as the cc are zero interest but just get rid of them, one less things to worry about.

If you get a chance at a better job paying more money in the next 12 months then I would take it. Your objective is to clear as much debt as possible. Use the next 12 months to figure out exactly what it is you want to do and to put more working time behind you. The next 12 months you could focus on getting the job that will offer you the better prospects in a sector that you really like. At that point your debt will be lower and you will be finding your rhythm again anyway.

Praying 01-24-2016 08:43 PM

I work in the retirement industry and am crazy focused on savings and retirement needs, so my perspective on savings is a bit skewed.

I cringe at the thought of spending savings...I'd be considering a way to STOP...what if you told yourself it would run out on a year and you promise not to touch the rest? Would you do anything differently?

But I'm actually human too, and after my divorce spent more than I needed to for a while getting my new life set up--but it made me very uncomfortable.

You've got a good cushion that you might need later in life, so if you can save it, please do!

(Okay, sorry, have I mentioned my friends think I'm a total downer, lol...)

Since I work in the benefits field we perform and follow all kinds of studies on people and behavior. Heard one the other day-- though my percentages might be off, this was the message:

A man reading job requirements will see that he matches 20% of what they're looking for and think "I can do that!" He'll apply and maybe get the job.

A woman reading job requirements will see that she matches 80% of what they're looking for and think "I don't have what they need", and not try.

Women as a whole tend to be more self-limiting while men jump out and take risks, promising they CAN do something they THINK they can do. Because they believe in themselves. Women think it's "honest" to say "well, I think I probably can do it, but I haven't actually done it..." instead of exuding confidence.

This is a generalization, but it came from a study of recruiting data. Just food for thought as you challenge yourself and tell employers how awesome you are.

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