So in the previous post I explained that I’m planning to change jobs. But I’m not just looking for another admin assistant job with a better salary, location, or hours. I don’t think I’m really cut out for it. I know I’m not cut out for the one I have, anyway, and it would take something radically different to be fulfilling.
My plan is to re-enter a field I’ve been in and loved (library) and work at something I believe in (Ok, maybe testing newborns’ ears isn’t feeding the hungry, but it’s so important because many problems can be fixed if caught this early).
One of the biggest disadvantages of starting a new career is finding yourself in a lower pay grade. In your own field, your experience may be valuable, but your new employer sees you as someone who’s still got a lot to learn.
I’m ahead of the game in library, but I don’t have enough credentials to get a full-time well-paid job. Pity, because I think that’s the kind of work I could actually do 40 hours a week.
So if you’re going to be taking a large pay cut, here are 4 steps to prepare financially.
First, know what you spend.
We budget and track our spending. I started off being kind of detailed, but now I prefer to just do it by category. Maybe it’s lazy, but I’m more likely to want to do it and motivation is important.
Plus, we have all the regular expenses divided by things like “cell bill, “water,” “cable,” etc.
Second, figure out what you absolutely must spend.
We can cut out our basic cable. Mr. Micah needs the internet for work and I’ll need it if I’m going to freelance. But we almost always watch our tv over the internet the next day (I love CBS.com) since we go to bed before most of our favorite shows are on. Plus, we can pick up waves for some of the really basic stations.
We’ll try to keep expenses at a minimum, no eating out if possible, that kind of thing. We’re already pretty good at this, we’ll just have to stay good.
Third, build an emergency transition fund.
I think it’s important to differentiate it from a conventional emergency fund, though you could use the emergency fund. It’s just that you’re more likely to use the emergency transition fund.
If you don’t already have some, build a savings account of at least a thousand dollars. This isn’t a conventional emergency fund, but is there specifically for emergencies as you’re transitioning into your new job and lifestyle.
Maybe the car breaks; maybe you underestimated how much your commute will cost. This fund is to help smooth your transition. It’s not there to subsidize your lifestyle.
We have a decent emergency fund. We also have a cushion—see below.
Fourth, if you’re able, build a cushion to subsidize your lifestyle.
Suppose you’re becoming a freelance writer. If you’re diligent, you predict being able to pay for rent and food. That’s great! However, your income will probably differ from month to month. If possible, build a financial cushion right now. My husband and I are working on one for this summer when he’s going to be changing jobs. We live mostly off my income, but our rent will be going up in June, so we need to prepare for it.
We do have a financial cushion beyond our emergency fund. Well, it’s all the emergency fund in a way, the 3 months living expenses, but we plan not to need the full three months worth, since Mr. Micah gets some money from teaching and I plan to be employed. With the money we do have, that cushion should last us for 3-5 months or more–depending on how things go.
You can keep the cushion going by putting in money whenever you’ve gone over your predicted income for the month.