So this year marks my fifth year anniversary at my current job. And five years since my family relocated to this bustling area outside of our Nations Capitol. It has taken me some time to figure out how I feel about this anniversary because it reflects both my accomplishments and areas where I have struggled over the past five years. I am someone who likes a good challenge, and I don’t like to lose – at anything. So I knew I needed to get past this post because it threatens to stop my progress if I don’t.
Before I started in my current position, I spent three years making lateral career moves. I had relocated South from New York City, in search of a calmer life and more opportunities for my teens, but the job market and the culture are very different here. I wound up in a position I could adapt to easily, but one I knew would never offer a long-lasting career. Nevertheless I moved up quickly and was promoted into a managerial role, plus I really enjoyed the people I worked with. That allowed me to become complacent regarding my personal and professional goals. By the time I really took notice, I had fallen into a financial hole and needed to make changes quickly to recover.
I moved my family yet again, finding my current job, and I decided to continue working my other job, part time at night. I had not yet learned of this thing called a side hustle, I just knew I needed the extra income to play catch up and bring all of my bills current. Initially I had an awful time trying to adjust to working 2 jobs, I was always tired and stressed, getting only about 4 hours of slept a night, sometimes working straight through to the next day. Eventually, I grew used to the hours, of course getting paid every week from one job or the other softened the blow.
Once I was caught up on bills, I had an opportunity to get my teens and me off the debt hamster wheel by paying off my debt and building savings, but like so many people, I succumbed to lifestyle inflation. I upgraded our car, bought new furniture and treated my family to new clothes and outings.
By the summer of 2018, I began to notice that my household budget depended on income from both jobs to handle my monthly expenses. Over time, I had created a situation for myself where, if I stopped working at night, I would not be able to pay all of my bills. What had seemed like a windfall just 3 years earlier now seemed like a noose around my neck. This life I have created of working more than 60 hours of week will not be sustainable much longer.
Thankfully, I have spent the greater part of the last 18 months absorbing as much as I can about the world of personal finance. I was already monitoring my budget on a spreadsheet and updating it monthly, but now I focus on more target information, like my debt percentages and building my savings over time. I have given myself a definitive date for ending my night job, and I can track my progress based on all that I have learned.
So what does the next 5 years hold for me?
Renewed commitment to becoming debt free - this matters even more for me because it will mean getting back to a normal life or working just one job. That will allow me more time with family, and time to pursue some of my interests outside of work.
Some things truly are more important than money . . .