So, it appears that quite a lot of you want me to write about how you can afford changing careers. Ok. I am nothing if not responsive.
First, what happens when you have no money whatsoever saved up to embark on your new career? You have simply decided (hopefully after reading a few of my other articles) that you are ready to switch careers. Well, do not just up and quit your job tomorrow. That would not be prudent.
You have a few choices if you have no money saved up for your career change. If you are trying to start your own company, try and get a loan from a local bank (and I refer you to my article, “De-Housing the Housewife,” which goes through many of the steps that you should take when starting your own business). This is what my friend Gloria did (as always, not a real name) when she started her own business, and the bank loan was enough to help her cover her living expenses for a little while.
Another option is to start saving money right away. I know that you want to leave your career behind today and start your new life tomorrow, but you might be a lot better off figuring out how much money you need to start your new career and then saving that amount.
Of course, there are plenty of jobs out there that do not pay you enough to save anything in the first place. That, or perhaps your fixed expenses at home – your mortgage, your children’s soccer team, your car – are simply too high to allow you to save any money. That is quite a pickle you’ve got there.
I have one friend, Marchant (not a real name), who has hated his computer programming job for a number of years. He loves programming – he just has hated his company. Unfortunately, he has been unable to leave for a few reasons: he has newborn twins at home, his wife does not work, and, until recently, he was not a U.S. citizen. For those of you who do not know this, people here on work visas can only work for the company for which they were offered a visa. Unlike the rest of us who were born here (in my case, as a second generation son of immigrants), they have to get a new employer to sponsor their work visa. But I digress.
Marchant does not lack for ideas – every time I visit him and his wife, he is telling me about a new business idea that he has. For the most part, these ideas are extensions of his hobbies. Then, finally, he came across a technological problem that he thought he could solve. So, the next day, he called up a few of his friends who are also programmers, and they started working on their new product after work. It has been a few months, but they work on this new product every single day after work – not all night, but for a few hours. Today, they are close enough to having a product that they are thinking about finding a businessperson to help them package their new technology for venture capital firms. He has done this all with absolutely no money – everyone who works for the company gets an equal share of the stock, assuming that the company actually takes off. If it does not, then they might just try and use their contacts to sell their new technology to an established firm.
Marchant is lucky, though – he has the time to work on his new career at home. What if you do not? What if you work long hours and your limited home time is filled with spending time with your family? Some writers will tell you that you have to make time for your career change – if it is so important to you, then go out and do it. I disagree. You cannot make up for time you miss with your family, and it would be wrong of you to think that providing for them at some indeterminate point in the future somehow balances the time that you would not spend with them today. However, that does not mean that you cannot make a switch.
You will have to make cuts. If you spend time with friends at a bar after work – that has to go. If you spend your entire Sunday watching football – that also has to go. You have to create time to work on your dream; just do not make that time at the expense of your family. Then work on your new career during these times, and try to get a business plan together so that you can find someone with money who is willing to fund you.
Not all of you want to start your own company, I know – some of you want to change to a different company and, to do that, you have to go back to school. This is an expensive prospect any way that you look at it. Sure, you can get a lot of loans for school, but those loans will not help you pay your household bills. However, if schooling is the only way to change your career, take out the loans – they will remind you that you are serious about changing your career, because the bank that loaned you the money will be serious about getting it back from you – and take weekend classes. Many schools offer programs for night and/or weekend learning. Enroll in this program while you are still working. Your life will be hard for quite a while – going to school and working full time will put a fantastic strain on your life – but keep in mind that staying in your current career, which has caused you to be unhappy enough that you have read through this article, is not going to get any better. You want to change careers because your current one does not work for you, and you will just have to deal with not having a social life for a while.
Finally, there are two more options. First, you can take a lower-level position when you switch careers and try and stretch the family budget a bit – maybe you can take a second, part-time job, or maybe you can just stop going out for dinner. Each household budget is different, and I would not presume to know what will work for you. Look through everything your family spends for a month – I do this by looking at my credit card bill – and see what you could cut. For me, I found that I spent too much money on books. My solution? I started buying books from used bookstores, lowering my per-book costs from $15 to $2. Not bad, eh? I could have dropped further by going to the library, but I found that the fines from not returning a book quickly were more than I could spend buying the book from a used bookstore.
The second thing you could do is stay in your current career. I refer you back to my article, “Five Questions to Ask Yourself.” Maybe you actually like your job, and you just have not been thinking about it properly.
Until next time, here is my parting shot: always try to save money. You never know when you will hit a rainy day, or how long the rain will last. I know, this is only tangentially related to this article, but it is good advice nonetheless.