Author Topic: General/Job Advice?  (Read 4630 times)

Jeff7

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General/Job Advice?
« on: May 05, 2014, 07:59:43 AM »
Hey! Newbie, have been rooting through the main MMM site and through the forums. I'm working on cutting spending and have found joy in saving. A few particular questions. Please find them summed at the bottom if need be.

I'm 23. I currently have about 9k saved up, with approximately 14.5k in student loan debt - not a single cent in any other sort of debt. I've thought about pushing some of my savings to pay off the loans: but I have a bit of anxiety cutting into the savings cushion - which would last me quite a while if my job ended tomorrow - I do have, especially by the thousands. For reference:

Code: [Select]
Direct Loan - Sub
1-01 $3,894.39 5.35%

Direct Loan - Sub
1-02 $4,792.50 4.25%

Direct Loan- Unsub
1-03 $3,865.68 6.55%

Direct Loan- Unsub
1-04 $2,133.09 6.55%

TOTAL $14,685.66
           

Another facet: I've got a 97 Nissan King Cab which has treated me as well as I've treated it. Ever since I got it back in 07' as my first car, the only major repairs it's ever needed so far were just a couple months ago. No car payments. However, the mileage isn't... terrible but nor is it fantastic. The real trouble comes from living outside of town, 14 miles away from work. I'd love to bike, but while I'm not terribly out of shape, I have some heavy work to do to get to that point. Plus I need a bike! (Nor can I shower at work...) I'd love to hear recommendations from people who have had to gear up to biking such a distance / bike recommendations for back and uneven roads.

Finally, the job. I graduated with a BS in history in 12 and found promptly nothing using it. (I really wish I'd gone for something different or did a lot more work to secure something more while studying, but I was blissfully asleep to reality and income and savings until basically my last semester.) Currently, I'm a receptionist at 40 hrs and $10.5 on the hour. This is sufficient at the moment, and continues to let me steadily pad away at the savings. But I want something more. I'm not afraid to work myself silly or get my hands dirty (my old Walmart overnight stocking job kept me in better shape than this desk job at least, hah!) but I have to figure out where and how to reinvent myself. Right now I'm studying for IT certifications (A+ at the moment) at home/work when I can to explore that avenue.

To sum my questions/advice seeking:

1.) 9k saved, most of a year's worth if job suddenly vanished. 14.5k student loans = entirety of debt. Push to pay them off?

2.) 97 Nissan, treated well, still running good. 14 miles from work = ugh, 28 miles worth of gas a day. Suggestions on bikes / building up to biking that far? (note: moving not really an option)

3.) Job advice. History degree, yay? Receptionist presently. Willing to roll up sleeves and/or reinvent self. Studying IT certs: asking for those with experience in such/reinventing selves, and how is the job market?

4.) Bonus round... I'd love to get the hell out of this town. Seattle is a place that keeps coming up to mind, generally places in the NW or NE. (Although, money...) The idea of moving to completely the other side of the country is both exciting and terrifying and I wouldn't have a clue of how to start.

I realize this might be a bit much, but questions and details, man! I'd appreciate any thoughts or advice.

FunkyStickman

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Re: General/Job Advice?
« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2014, 11:07:19 AM »
I've been in this situation. here's my thought process:

1. How long would it take you to find a job? Any kind of job, doesn't matter.
2. How much money would you need to live off of for that long?
3. Subtract that as your "emergency fund" and dump the rest on your loans.

Okay, after some more thought, I'll add some to the other questions.

If the car's paid for, keep it. Even if you only ride a bike to and from work a couple times a week, that's something. It adds up. The additional benefits include reduced healthcare costs in the long run... maybe some increased food costs in the short term.

You're not going to find any decently paying work in the computer industry. I worked as a computer/printer tech for 15 years, and eventually quit so I could actually make decent money. I was capped out at $15/hr, even with years of experience and certifications. To actually make real money at computers, you'd need a degree or extensive (i.e. expensive) MCSE qualifications, and those expire, so it's an ongoing cost.
« Last Edit: May 05, 2014, 11:11:16 AM by FunkyStickman »

Jeff7

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Re: General/Job Advice?
« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2014, 11:32:13 AM »
Probably not too horribly long, in regards to finding a job - I'd happily take 'whatever' over nothing, and I spent nearly every waking moment with the thought process of 'job job job' in the last brief period I was without one. I know I could at least pump a few grand if nothing else into those loans. Maybe knock out the smaller, higher interest ones.

No plans to sell the truck. But I'd definitely like to consider the bike for gas/health benefits, even if it'd take some doing to hit the goal of 'biking to/from work.'

And blah. I've heard people make recommendations from both sides of 'do/don't do' computer stuff / look into certifications, though with every tale it seems to lean more and more toward 'don't.' I am more and more beginning to think 'back to the drawing board.'

MissStache

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Re: General/Job Advice?
« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2014, 11:33:29 AM »
(note: moving not really an option)


Why not?  I want to know more about your living situation. 

A year's worth of savings is a lot- really generous.  If I were in your shoes, I would take half of that and get rid of as much of the 6.55% loans as you can.  5K is still a very generous emergency fund in your situation!

High five to a fellow history major who realized that there isn't much to do with that job unless you want to get a PhD.  And even then it can be hard to find something.  One thing that I've learned is that my background in history gave me a lot of great skills that have been valuable to me in my other careers:  writing, research, producing well-constructed arguments, public speaking.  I'd advise to look at your history degree as an intellectual stepping stone that made you well-rounded in the humanities.  If you're anything like me, prospective employers will ask you about that in interviews, and make sure you can articulate how that course of study can assist you in whatever job you are applying for.  When you tell someone you have a degree in history, they will think "this person is smart" but you want to make them think "this person is smart AND functional AND they will be great in this position."

Do you have the opportunity to move up in your current company?  Is there any kind of work that seems interesteing or that you enjoy?  I can't speak to the IT-related stuff, but for myself I got a job as an entry-level person in a huge company, and was quickly promoted into our Corporate HR Division. 

And I'm a big fan of huge moves to far-away places.  I've done it three times and they have all been wonderful growth opportunites, both from a working and personal view.  BUT, I did that before I found Mustacianism.  I'm not so sure I would do it again due to the financial risk.

Catbert

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Re: General/Job Advice?
« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2014, 11:37:58 AM »
I think FunkyStickMan has the right idea regarding your emergency fund (i.e. figure out how long it would take you to find another job and pay the rest on your student loans).   

Your overall SLs are relatively small compared to many and you've got 4 separate loans with similar balances.  In your case I wouldn't pay extra on a loan until I could pay it off completely so your payment goes away.  So if you decide that 5K is the minimum for your E fund, pay off loan #3 and wait until you've got 7K to pay off loan #4.

Sorry, no advice regarding the truck or what to do with your history degree.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2014, 12:24:41 PM by mary w »

Jeff7

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Re: General/Job Advice?
« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2014, 11:53:19 AM »
Why not?  I want to know more about your living situation. 
...
A year's worth of savings is a lot- really generous.  If I were in your shoes, I would take half of that and get rid of as much of the 6.55% loans as you can.  5K is still a very generous emergency fund in your situation!
...
High five to a fellow history major who realized that there isn't much to do with that job unless you want to get a PhD. 
...
Do you have the opportunity to move up in your current company?

1.) Simply put, it's presently free. I live with a very generous and good friend who, despite my attempts to, currently refuses to accept rent, despite mentioning several times that he'd start / my attempts to give him money. I counter this by anticipating every month that he's going to start, as well as being a good housemate who keeps things tidy. I suppose moving could be an option, yes, but I feel like it'd be mostly a wash at best, and my 'landlord' would be a good friend to boot.

2.) Yeah. I really am considering knocking out either/both loan 3 or 4. At the moment I repay about $180 a month for minimum payments, plus I try to toss on some extra $ here or there.

3.) I just really wish I'd realized earlier! Don't get me wrong, it's my passion, especially the history of religion / specifically early Christianity, but... I like to mention my dabbling into teaching, including student teaching. Daily lesson plans for middle schoolers make me very much unafraid of tackling on other things, hah!

4.) Maybe? I've busted my ass to be a good employee (my motto regarding employment is, 'hey, you're being paid to do a thing. you better do that thing damn well') and have frequent chats with the president / department heads. I feel like some opportunities may open up soon - save for maybe one or two exceptions, I'm the youngest around here by far, and several people are looking at retiring, and we don't have a whole lot of redundancy in departments like HR and Accounting.

yyc-phil

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Re: General/Job Advice?
« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2014, 11:59:25 AM »
About work, the only advice I can give to a young person like you, with a good general education and a diploma in hand, and what I see are good English writing skills, is to get out of the USA and go teach ESL overseas.

DollarBill

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Re: General/Job Advice?
« Reply #7 on: May 05, 2014, 07:14:56 PM »
Quote
About work, the only advice I can give to a young person like you, with a good general education and a diploma in hand, and what I see are good English writing skills, is to get out of the USA and go teach ESL overseas.

This is a great Idea...look for a DOD teaching job on Military Bases. Get to see the world and great benefits.

http://www.dodea.edu/


Badass by 41

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Re: General/Job Advice?
« Reply #8 on: May 06, 2014, 03:13:12 PM »
To actually make real money at computers, you'd need a degree or extensive (i.e. expensive) MCSE qualifications, and those expire, so it's an ongoing cost.

I debated posting this at all, since I'm not trying to pick a fight, but this view of careers in "computers" or "technology" is very narrow.  If your passion is for hardware and/or software support, then that should factor into your choice of direction in the industry.  However, there are many other opportunities in technology than support, and many of them will hire experience/talent over a degree.

I mention this from personal experience.  I've been in a similar position when I started in hardware/software support earning $10.75/hr.  After getting my second $.25 annual raise, I did the math for where this direction would take me over the next 30yrs and decided to do something different.  For me, I had been doing web design on the side for a while, so I decided to give that a go. There weren't very many opportunities where I was living at the tim, so I moved across the country.  I worked for myself for a little while building small sites, but quickly took the plunge and got an entry level job at a startup.  That entry level job ultimately lead to promotions, then moving to a different company, followed by more promotions, then a few more company moves.  It's been more than 20 years since I made the call to do something different, and while it was a lot of hard work, it was also fun, and challenging, and very rewarding.

Oh, and did I mention I never finished college?  Particularly in online technology, motivated, driven, committed, articulate, empathetic people with a desire to learn, are far more valued than a diploma.  I say this as both a recipient of this truth, and also as a global hiring manager with 20+ years in the industry.

If I were you, I would do some sole searching to figure out what about technology interests you.  Are you creative?  Are you a problem solver? Are you a tinkerer? Do you just like to get stuff done?  Then do some research on how those talents relate to different roles in technology.  Take advantage of your youth to try some new things and learn as much as you can so you open as many opportunities as you can.  Your priorities will change over time, so I believe having options should be a priority.

You're doing a great job so far, and you are miles ahead of your peers just by being here and asking the questions you're asking.  Keep up the good work.

ysette9

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Re: General/Job Advice?
« Reply #9 on: May 06, 2014, 07:39:17 PM »
Going off of what Bad ass by 41 has stated, I think you should take some quality time right now and research your options. You are in a great spot in the sense that you are taking advantage of free rent and living within your means. If I were in your position, I think I would take my free time and spend it online/at the library/wherever reading about what interests you, figuring out what your strengths are, etc. Since I am an engineer and love spreadsheets and the like, I am imagining you putting together a matrix of different career options, what additional training/schooling you would need to get there, how much it would cost, and what the likely payoff is in the future. Think of this as making an investment where you will be getting returns for the next 10/20/30 years depending on how long your working career is. It really is worth the time and even some money now to get this right.

For example, (and I only use engineering to illustrate a point since it is something I am familiar with), you have a four-year "soft" degree now which means you have locked in your lower division requirements. You might decide to spend a year or two taking some math and science classes at your local junior college, and then apply as a transfer student to an in-state university and get some kind of engineering degree. The cost is the next three years of your life, tuition, plus the opportunity cost of not earning your present salary (not that great in the big scheme). On the plus side, you look at the likely jobs you could get after graduation, which are probably in the $80k/year range, and you do your calculations to decide whether that is a decent investment over your time horizon. Repeat for different career paths until you stumble upon something tasty.

I think you're in a pretty cool situation right now where you're doing your self-reflection early enough on to make a big impact in your quality of life, before you get too bogged down with life crap to make change difficult. Good luck!

Jeff7

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Re: General/Job Advice?
« Reply #10 on: May 07, 2014, 07:00:18 AM »
Thanks. I really feel like I'm at a sort of crossroads at the moment, though I have no idea which way I want to go. I stumbled upon the idea of IT/computers because I asked a couple of friends and learned that a number of certificates and the like are indeed obtainable via testing. Where exactly I want to go with that, however, is still a question mark I need to find the answer for! (And the sooner I do, the sooner I feel I can pour so much

I've also come to more and more of a realization: I have a money anxiety. It astounds me that I'm doing better than plenty of others - the idea that so many people in the US don't even have savings for several months blows my mind - but I am still terrified at where I am at the moment in relation to the future. Feelings of despair, that I'm already a failure - basically, a bunch of baggage that I know isn't really true (I'm still only 23, cripes sakes, and I at least seem to have ) but is really hard to shake at times.

Which is why I'm both proud and terrified at having made the choice to push and close out loan 04, with expectations of closing out loan 03 probably sometime a little later this year. Not counting college itself, I haven't made a payment nearly that big in, uh, ever, so it was a little exciting and felt really good to take that tiny bit of control. Even if I'm wincing a little...

A couple other questions that come to mind... I am trying to figure out where to shop. I love Costco and especially some of their practices, but the nearest one is apparently about 150 miles away! Does anyone have any recommendations on similar stores, especially in the SE US?

The option to put money in my 401k is finally about to open up to me. I'm admittedly a dummy when it comes to any sort of investment, period - there's going to be a meeting later this month that I'll attend. But, can anyone point me to a good 'Idiot's Guide' to 401k information and possibly beyond?

Thanks again. Even just writing all this out really helps me out. :)

okane ga nai

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Re: General/Job Advice?
« Reply #11 on: May 12, 2014, 05:22:32 AM »
I agree with ykphil - you could look into teaching ESL overseas. I'm in Japan on the JET Programme (http://www.jetprogramme.org/) at the moment and have a very mustachian lifestyle (I've now realised having recently come across MMM!). I ride a bike or walk almost everywhere, have cheap rent (about $50 a week for a furnished 2 bedroom townhouse) and don't acquire much because I arrived with a suitcase and want to leave with about the same amount of stuff. The pay is about 3,360,000 yen per year (about $33,000 USD before tax) - it sounds low, but the cost of living is so reasonable it is easy to save. It also includes health insurance (I had a wisdom tooth pulled out and it cost me about $13 which included the take home pain medication and antibiotics). The mantra here is 'every situation is different', and that's true because a lot depends on the school you are placed in, but most JET Programme participants also have quite a bit of free time at work to study Japanese or to pursue their own interests. Oh and if you are worried about moving half way across the world, don't worry, someone at your school will help you set up a Japanese bank account, get a cell phone and generally help with any issues you have. Of course this type of job may not be for everyone (and there can be downsides depending on your situation) but it is something worth thinking about. Good luck.