If you are in debt trouble and it’s known by family and friends, you will often hear advice along the lines of, “Have you considered a career change?” and “Have you ever thought about what might be different if you did something else for a living?” – That one has a particular (step) mother’s ring to it, right?
Thinking about making a career change when you are already stuck in a rut feels so unnatural like it should be the very last step in a long list of plans for figuring things out. However, the transition is not as rough as you might think. Here are some tips on how to change careers while still recovering from debt.
Knowing When a Career Change is the Right Call
Starting over often means tearing down and rebuilding. In a sense, you must do this with your expenses before determining if you can support making a major move to something new. Since you are contemplating a move largely motivated by your debt, have you considered the ways to cut debt in the immediate? This is a cushion or a buffer when planning a move.
We recently covered some easy ways to cut expenses, and DaveRamsey.com adds some additional thoughts on plotting out if this new career will be better suited to keep you stable: “The last thing you want is to put all the time and effort (and possibly money!) into switching careers, only to end up miserable again in a few months. That’s why it’s so important to take some time to clarify and verify not only your sweet spot, but also that it’s definitely time for you to move on from your current job. Start by making a list of your natural gifts, passions and values. How does that list line up with what you’re currently doing and what you could be doing in a different job?”
Get Advice from Industry Professionals
Continuing from the last point above, have you reached out to professionals in your intended industry for advice on how to get started? Ask them specific questions that would give you a leg up, since you will be beginning from a debt standpoint. Perhaps these friends and colleagues might even have an entry-level job waiting to be filled or know someone that would be willing to put the time in to train you.
NerdWallet has this to add on that topic: “Find people in the sort of role you aspire to and ask to pick their brain about the job market and local outlook. LinkedIn is one resource, but also make connections through friends and family referrals, industry conferences, alumni groups, local professional groups or meetups and business journals. Ask questions that test your assumptions about your desired career, such as what the day-to-day duties are and how the majority of time is spent…”
Build an Emergency Fund
This tip might seem like the most unrealistic on the list, given that you are in debt already and struggling in your current profession. However, if you can manage to cut costs in amenities and dining out or vacations, you can continue to make your minimum payments while socking away a cushion. You may have to take a position in your new field that is comparatively lower than the current position you hold, so it is best to save the money rather than aggressively pay down debt right away.
PeerFinance101.com provides a real-life, first-hand case study of this situation: “Don’t quit your job unless you have an emergency fund. This is my firsthand experience, I quit my job in August 2015, and it wasn’t until May 2016 before I started working full-time again in my desired career field. The original job I lined up fell through three weeks after I quit my undesirable job, thankfully we could live on my wife’s salary during that time. Could you afford to not have a regular income for nine months?”
The other option is much riskier, but it would be the route of taking out a loan. At Golden Financial Services we caution against this, mostly because loans often carry predatory interest rates. You may need to take on additional work to afford this option, so take caution to not spread yourself too thin.
When You Hate Your Job, You Spend More to Make Yourself Happy
While most blogs take note of only the practical and physical, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention this. In fact, remiss isn’t really a word, which seems to then fit perfectly with the theme of this point.
Debt.com illustrates this point perfectly with a well-written point in their blog: “People who hate their jobs often do things like overeat and drink or smoke more. Maybe they’re too beaten down to cook so they order takeout every night. Unfulfilled job haters charge new things on credit cards to cheer themselves for a day or two. It’s hard to like yourself if you don’t like your job. And if you don’t like yourself, you’re more likely to do self-destructive things like acquire more debt to fill the emptiness created by an unfulfilling job.”
Final Thoughts and Starters
If you are backed into a corner and ready to file for bankruptcy, you may want to handle finances prior to making your career change. Start by using a Debt Calculator to know exactly what the numbers look like. This will lead you to a Snowball Calculator if you are ready to increase monthly payments.
Knowing just exactly where that line is between recovery and legal consequences can be murky. If you are more than two months behind on your car payment, more than three or four months behind on rent, mortgage, utilities, etc, you may be facing bankruptcy. To know for sure, you may want to contact us at Golden Financial.