Author Topic: Update 1 year-in: Case Study: Putting out Severe Hair Fire…then Unemployment. Scared!  (Read 13730 times)

Mongoose

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Edited to add: update at the end. The rest is old!

Life situation: 41 and 42, married filing jointly. 2 dependents (ages  4 and 6). Extremely (for us) rural Missouri. Food allergies (dairy, eggs plus 6 yr old has celiac)

Gross Salary/Wages: $0 as of August 20, 2015
   Obviously, fixing this situation is priority number 1. DH and I both have advanced science degrees which has led to a lot of issues with being “overqualified”.  DH has been working as a teacher (not renewed for next school year and no prospects of continuing in that field…no interviews).  We are covered on health insurance until Oct 1. I haven’t had much luck getting a job (“overqualified”).  If I leave off my PhD years (grad school, postdoc, academic position), I have a 20 year gap in employment.  There is no realistic desire/ability for me to find employment in my field unless I can convince someone to take on a former prof as a lab tech. DH has less PhD level employment due to years as a “trailing spouse” and has had 4 interviews recently; all the employers have expressed interest and are likely to make decisions in 2-3 weeks. Due to our rural location, all the potential jobs we have found are 45 miles away.  All in the $32-40K range.
   
Pre-tax Deductions: $0 (see above)

Taxes: Last year we got a refund of $2000. No idea about next year due to our employment situation.

Other income (potential): We have a small start-up business (science analysis) that is not making enough to pay us but is making a (very) small profit and paying its own bills. It is kind of a weird situation but we basically got the client list/equipment from friends who were retiring from a successful business (4 families payed at $120K+; viable for 30 years; turning away clients due to not wanting to work more). The equipment was completely dismantled. We have a bit put back together (enough for us to run samples for clients) and most of the clients of the original company are still interested.  The main money-maker is not yet operational (95+% together; working on getting it to 100%...could be days…could be a few months).

Other Assets:
Emergency fund: $14,072 (bank savings; we were doing Dave Ramsey but DH’s job situation was weird so we combined debt snowball with emergency fund)

$300 plus dollars of metal (leftovers from rebuilding the science equipment minus usable spare parts). We also have old electronics that we are trying to separate by metal type to sell. Not sure how much that’ll be worth…probably not much. We are currently selling all of this as we get it sorted.

1978 Ford F100 Supercab. KBB $5775. I want to sell. DH is adamant that we keep unless we don’t get a job soon. Sentimental value?…my first vehicle so that is why we have it. Runs but has some fluid leaks.

1993 Mazda Protégé: probably worth ~$200 in scrap. 268,000 miles. Runs great. So far has needed almost no repairs. 36 mpg.

2001 Subaru Outback: maybe worth $1000. 315,000 miles. Runs great. Has only needed a few repairs.  We want to keep two cars so I can have a way to get around (not be stuck here…more psychological than anything...I hate where we are living) when DH is (hopefully soon!) at work.

401k/403b: $261,000 balance. We really don’t want to touch this!

Food stash: 3+ months of staples stocked up (I am a bit paranoid about feeding my family due to the food allergies/restrictions. Stock is routinely rotated/used up. All staples, not preprepared. I cook all our food from scratch).

Current Expenses: (Starting October 1…due to eccentricities of my DH’s previous job, we received 4 months pay at the time of his non-renewal.  I have prepaid/withdrawn cash for all expenses through September.)
Mortgage: $549.85 (PI: $333.85 + TI:$216.00; owe $63k @4.75%; valued at $120,000; bought due to no
rentals close-by and it was across the road from DH’s job and is next to the school)

Utilities (gas/electric): $300 (ARGH! Horrible! We have possibly the world’s worse furnace/AC. This is
   the MAXIMUM paid in a month over the last year so I set the budget at that. Any funds not paid
out a given month go towards debt).

Water/Sewage/Garbage: $75 (minimum $40 = no usage)

Internet: $52 (satellite; appears to be the only local provider?; keeping internet was a compromise with
   DH in exchange for getting rid of TV and several expensive hobbies)
Cell Phone: $96.10 (2 lines Verizon; as far as we can tell, they are the only tower close enough to
function? I hate this bill!)
Insurance: $252.64 (combined liability-only auto and term life; my request when DH wanted me to stay
home with the kids since his family has a horrible history of very early heart attack deaths)
Visa Debt: $250 minimum payment ($12.5 K balance @ 10.24%; the last of our debt snowball from years
   of EPIC STUPIDITY…down from $68k of totally idiotic “what the hell did we spend it on”
   consumer debt, multiple credit cards and loans…self-administered many face punches!!!)
Gas: $200 (average per month for last few months; would double if we get a job. Closest grocery is 20
miles, driving to interviews, visiting grandparents…)
Groceries: $400 (cash budget; difficult morale killer…down from $1200 two years ago; must
   accommodate dairy/egg allergy plus gluten free; all groceries, not just food)
Misc: $100 (cash budget; to cover everything else such as kids’ clothes, oil changes, repairs, etc. Not
enough but it’s all I am willing to budget. No cash, no spend.).

Total $2275.59

Liabilities:
mortgage (above)
credit card (above)
no other debts, loans, etc.  All the rest we have finally paid off.

Specific Questions:
1. Mainly I am just scared. Until staying home with the kids in a very few recent years, I have never been out of a job, ever.  I was leery of going to down to one income but we prefer home to daycare. This situation seems like an epic disaster.  Any hope?
2. If (hopefully when) my DH gets a job, I’m not sure if I should find a position for myself as well. Cons are that we would have a second 45 mile commute, daycare plus before/after care, nobody to take care of business, and my daughters’ school is an epic, abysmal failure at handing her food allergy/medical condition.  They claim to have never had a food allergy student before and are completely unable to handle basically anything. I get constant requests, phone calls, etc. Pro is basically more income.
3. I have a bit (not much, probably not worth much) of heirloom jewelry. Should I sell it?  I don’t want to and would definitely regret it later…but cash now is very interesting to me. (I’ll admit; I’m panicking about the no-job situation. I have essentially no tolerance for no income coming in despite having an emergency fund).
4. At what point should be list the house? The mortgage is lower/the same as rent in the area (in the town with the jobs). Renting in the town with the jobs would require shutting down the business. We bought the house knowing it was in need of repairs and would likely have to finish fixing it before it would sell well. It is conceivable that we might be able to move into a currently empty house that my parents own 3 hours from here. The job situation in this area is even grimmer than our current location (including the same commute to get to a population center)…and we really don’t want to do this…but it is on the table.
5. We live in town with an indescribably bad school system. The academics are bad but not the real issue.  They appear to have no ability to handle a student with food allergies. While we qualify for school food assistance, we have to provide all of our daughter’s food since the school is not able to provide food for her special diet. They are a near disaster on a regular basis (passing out food to her which she cannot eat) and 90% of the kindergarten curriculum was food based. Our primary objective once we get our feet under us and this $@%#$%@#$ debt gone for good is to figure out how to get out of here. We are not sure how to go about making this work. Thoughts?
« Last Edit: September 06, 2016, 06:44:06 AM by Mongoose »

BarkyardBQ

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Re: Case Study: Putting out Severe Hair Fire…then Unemployment. Scared!
« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2015, 03:38:56 PM »
The CC is your only debt? Assuming you're not trying to pay off the mortgage quickly.

Check out Page Plus Cellular, Verizon network for a fraction of the cost.

How much could you make if you called all the Business Clients and asked them if they had any work you could do this month? Offer a discount just to get some jobs. It looks like you have a resource you could utilize pretty quickly if you push yourself.
« Last Edit: August 03, 2015, 03:44:21 PM by zdravé »

Giro

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Re: Case Study: Putting out Severe Hair Fire…then Unemployment. Scared!
« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2015, 03:47:47 PM »
Since you are both unemployed, stop thinking about the possibility of you getting a job and daycare/commute.  This is an emergency.  You should both be applying for any and everything for which either of you is remotely qualified.  Any income will help. 

Let's worry about the problems of you both working when you are both working.

what's the housing market like?  I would be applying everywhere in the country.  With rents = your mortgage you could rent it out if you needed to move to gain employment.




Gray Matter

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Re: Case Study: Putting out Severe Hair Fire…then Unemployment. Scared!
« Reply #3 on: August 03, 2015, 03:58:10 PM »
I'm with Giro--definitely consider moving.  This area doesn't seem to offer much in terms of employment or education, so unless there are other reasons to stay, I'd cast my net wide.  The good news is your expenses are quite low, so you really just need a job, any job (or two any jobs).

Will DH be eligible for unemployment insurance once his severance runs out?  That'll stretch the emergency fund.  I can't imagine it would take more than 6 months for one of you to find a job, so I think you'll be OK, but you'll need to both be job hunting.  While the decision to have a SAHP is very personal, relying on one income can be scary, which is what you're living right now.  You have my sympathies.

mandy_2002

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Re: Case Study: Putting out Severe Hair Fire…then Unemployment. Scared!
« Reply #4 on: August 03, 2015, 04:06:25 PM »
5. We live in town with an indescribably bad school system. The academics are bad but not the real issue.  They appear to have no ability to handle a student with food allergies. While we qualify for school food assistance, we have to provide all of our daughter’s food since the school is not able to provide food for her special diet. They are a near disaster on a regular basis (passing out food to her which she cannot eat) and 90% of the kindergarten curriculum was food based. Our primary objective once we get our feet under us and this $@%#$%@#$ debt gone for good is to figure out how to get out of here. We are not sure how to go about making this work. Thoughts?

According to the state, the school system must have a plan for allergies:  "MRS 167.208 (2009) requires each school district to adopt a policy on allergy prevention and response, with priority given to addressing potentially deadly food-borne allergies."  As I understand it, celiac disease isn't deadly, so it wouldn't be a priority, but they need to have a plan for prevention.  A person with assistance for school food shouldn't have that additional burden placed back on them (obviously you also believe this).  This is a battle I'm sure you've fought (or are currently), but I would go to the school board.  There is precedent for celiac to be considered a disability because of the severe life impact (http://www.ada.gov/q&a_lesley_university.htm), and so you could threaten (but not on the first attempt) a legal move in accordance with the ADA.  I currently live in CA, so people are afraid of all legal action, but just mentioning the ADA will make most schools jump through hoops.  Good luck and Godspeed. 

justajane

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Re: Case Study: Putting out Severe Hair Fire…then Unemployment. Scared!
« Reply #5 on: August 03, 2015, 04:07:21 PM »
Since you have a Ph.D., have you ever thought about bringing in income by editing dissertations? I don't know how your field of science works, but there's always a market for people to edit journal articles and dissertations, particularly for ESL students. This can be done from anywhere. I do this while staying home with my kids (have a humanities Ph.D.) and some months I can pull in upwards of $1,000.  American Journal Experts is the most well-known editing firm, but there are plenty of others. I imagine people in the sciences would be even more in demand than the humanities.

NorCal

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Re: Case Study: Putting out Severe Hair Fire…then Unemployment. Scared!
« Reply #6 on: August 03, 2015, 04:10:12 PM »
Big picture, once you get the employment thing figured out, you're doing pretty good.

You are right, the employment situation is the most critical.  I see two paths that look like the best bets:

1.  Apply for every good job in your field, regardless of location, and relocate to where there's work.
2.  Turn the small business into a real business ASAP, while one of you finds any work that's available (minimum wage or whatever).

Option #2 is a bit riskier, but I think it could be a lot more rewarding long term.  There's something appealing about choosing your own clients and hours.  I'm sure it will still be hard, but it would add a degree of life flexibility that you won't get working for someone else.

2Birds1Stone

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Re: Case Study: Putting out Severe Hair Fire…then Unemployment. Scared!
« Reply #7 on: August 03, 2015, 04:10:41 PM »
I am another vote to move ASAP

Cassie

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Re: Case Study: Putting out Severe Hair Fire…then Unemployment. Scared!
« Reply #8 on: August 03, 2015, 04:19:01 PM »
Also you can teach college courses online. Not only private universities but the public ones now offer classes online. I am teaching one now & make good $. However, it really varies & some pay terrible.  Also I have went to Europe while teaching a class because you just need internet access. I was a SAHM for years & since we always had an emergency fund we were fine when my hubby got laid-off. I think you are panicking & don't need to. You have a low mortgage so I would not sell the jewelry.  Hope you hear soon from one of the places he interviewed with. 

AZDude

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Re: Case Study: Putting out Severe Hair Fire…then Unemployment. Scared!
« Reply #9 on: August 03, 2015, 04:20:08 PM »
This is not nearly as dire as you are imagining. You have about 6 months of expenses saved up, and it sounds like your husband has some decent job prospects. If he gets a job making ~36K, that is about $2100 a month. Not quite enough for you to live off of, but pretty darn close. The metal and the truck combined will pay for another 3 months.

Now, two people with PHDs in some kind of science should be able to make more, combined, than $36K. That is abysmally low. Since you hate your current place of residence, I'm with the others. Cast a wide net looking for higher income.

Mongoose

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Re: Case Study: Putting out Severe Hair Fire…then Unemployment. Scared!
« Reply #10 on: August 03, 2015, 04:24:31 PM »
Yes, the credit card is our only debt. We paid off the rest by massively slashing spending.  Only minimums are being paid on that and the mortgage until we have some cash flow.

To get money from our client list business clients, we need to have the equipment up to 100%. We are tearing our hair out to get the equipment running. The clients we can serve now are cold-calls in an industry the original company didn't work with. We get quite a few but for low amounts and usually with a multi-month delay between contact and an order being placed. We are near 100% repeats so if we can weather this current problem! I think the business is viable. The main business has a list of clients who want to be called as soon as we are up and running. Thanks for the lead on a Verizon alternative.

The housing market is bad. Most are listed 6+ months before getting a low offer. It is unlikely we could rent it out. The town has 1000 people and, as far as we know, almost no rentals. It is the weirdest place I've ever lived. The rent = mortgage is mortgage here vs rent for studio apartment in the nearest city.

We are open to moving...in fact hell bent on moving in the near term...if we could move and keep the business as a possibility, I'd be packing. We will widen our search area for sure. I've lived all over the country so where we are is not much of an issue.

Non-renewed teachers are not eligible for unemployment.

Mongoose

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Re: Case Study: Putting out Severe Hair Fire…then Unemployment. Scared!
« Reply #11 on: August 03, 2015, 04:31:36 PM »
Yes, this salary is abysmal for a PhD. DH has been out of research long enough to make re-entry difficult. I have recent experience as an asst prof but my department was closed so everyone was out on the job search. My field is undergoing a major contraction.

I hadn't thought of dissertation proofing or online teaching. I'm somewhat lost having literally not worked outside a university since I was 17. Thanks!

We have contacted the school board and are on to the state about the school problems. The state says the school's paperwork is inadequate. We are trying to wedge her onto a 504 but the school is refusing (we just ain't never done it that way). The state is trying to figure out who has jurisdiction to help.

Gin1984

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Re: Case Study: Putting out Severe Hair Fire…then Unemployment. Scared!
« Reply #12 on: August 03, 2015, 04:54:37 PM »
Since you have a Ph.D., have you ever thought about bringing in income by editing dissertations? I don't know how your field of science works, but there's always a market for people to edit journal articles and dissertations, particularly for ESL students. This can be done from anywhere. I do this while staying home with my kids (have a humanities Ph.D.) and some months I can pull in upwards of $1,000.  American Journal Experts is the most well-known editing firm, but there are plenty of others. I imagine people in the sciences would be even more in demand than the humanities.
Wow.  I have my master's in neuroscience and my husband has his PhD and neither of us had heard of this.  How did you get started?

Mongoose

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Re: Case Study: Putting out Severe Hair Fire…then Unemployment. Scared!
« Reply #13 on: August 03, 2015, 05:50:58 PM »
DH here, hijacking the thread for a moment. First off, Thank you for your insights!

Something Mongoose didn't tell you is we are in discussion with an angel investment firm to do a temporary influx of cash (~$100k) to get things kicked into gear, both to pay the bills short term and obtain some equipment that both works and have service contracts. Neither of us are happy with debt, even in the company (the company services no debt at this time), so even with reasonably good terms, we are reluctant to go this route, even though we would likely repay the investors well before the chit would be due. Once I can get a %#^*&$@ job, this may be moot, but what is the opinion about this possibility? On a similar note, what's the consensus on crowdfunding?

electriceagle

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Re: Case Study: Putting out Severe Hair Fire…then Unemployment. Scared!
« Reply #14 on: August 03, 2015, 06:19:54 PM »
There is one question that you didn't answer: why did you move to Butthole, MO and is there anything currently holding you there?

Mongoose

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Re: Case Study: Putting out Severe Hair Fire…then Unemployment. Scared!
« Reply #15 on: August 03, 2015, 07:45:00 PM »
There is one question that you didn't answer: why did you move to Butthole, MO and is there anything currently holding you there?
ROFL! Such an apt reference :) we ask ourselves that multiple times per day.

The original reasons why we moved to Butthole, MO:
1) My department was dissolved at the institution I was at, so I boxed my research up and sent it to my PhD mentor, who is 45 miles from our current residence. I was hoping to work with him on the project once our feet were under us, but he has no money to pay me. The project lives on though. In addition, DH could get a teaching license in MO with his PhD and the teaching gig he was offered was literally across the street from our house. Unfortunately, DH is too expensive for the school to support, so he is no longer employed by said school. They replaced him with two recent-grad part timers.
2) It's freaking cheap to live here and start a business. We were already putting things together we moved. We really would like this to work, and not just for the money.
3) We still have friends in the area (45 miles away) and family is reasonably close.

None of those mean we have to stay here.

What is now holding us here now is the lack of capital to get us the freak outta here. And not wanting to kill the business when it is probably really close to taking off. If we could get out of here while keeping the potential for the business, we would leave tomorrow.

Are you going back into academia any time ever? Because if not, writing college papers for the lazy can be lucrative.
I now have no expectation nor desire to return to academia. How does one get into writing for the lazy?

justajane

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Re: Case Study: Putting out Severe Hair Fire…then Unemployment. Scared!
« Reply #16 on: August 03, 2015, 08:19:54 PM »
Since you have a Ph.D., have you ever thought about bringing in income by editing dissertations? I don't know how your field of science works, but there's always a market for people to edit journal articles and dissertations, particularly for ESL students. This can be done from anywhere. I do this while staying home with my kids (have a humanities Ph.D.) and some months I can pull in upwards of $1,000.  American Journal Experts is the most well-known editing firm, but there are plenty of others. I imagine people in the sciences would be even more in demand than the humanities.
Wow.  I have my master's in neuroscience and my husband has his PhD and neither of us had heard of this.  How did you get started?

I did some google searches to find editing firms. I e-mailed a few my resume and told them why they should hire me. One responded, and I have been working for them ever since. I am thinking of some day starting my own company, but this would require me to be involved with getting payment and dealing directly with clients. Right now all I do is edit. But I get paid less.

I consider writing student papers for the lazy and pathological unethical and decided a long time ago that I would not do this, unless I literally needed to do so to feed my kids or keep the heat on. Having dealt with plagiarism as a teaching assistant, I find the practice abhorrent.

Gin1984

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Re: Case Study: Putting out Severe Hair Fire…then Unemployment. Scared!
« Reply #17 on: August 03, 2015, 08:27:02 PM »
Since you have a Ph.D., have you ever thought about bringing in income by editing dissertations? I don't know how your field of science works, but there's always a market for people to edit journal articles and dissertations, particularly for ESL students. This can be done from anywhere. I do this while staying home with my kids (have a humanities Ph.D.) and some months I can pull in upwards of $1,000.  American Journal Experts is the most well-known editing firm, but there are plenty of others. I imagine people in the sciences would be even more in demand than the humanities.
Wow.  I have my master's in neuroscience and my husband has his PhD and neither of us had heard of this.  How did you get started?

I did some google searches to find editing firms. I e-mailed a few my resume and told them why they should hire me. One responded, and I have been working for them ever since. I am thinking of some day starting my own company, but this would require me to be involved with getting payment and dealing directly with clients. Right now all I do is edit. But I get paid less.

I consider writing student papers for the lazy and pathological unethical and decided a long time ago that I would not do this, unless I literally needed to do so to feed my kids or keep the heat on. Having dealt with plagiarism as a teaching assistant, I find the practice abhorrent.
I'll take a look around thanks.  Though if you did start a company, I would be interested in sending you a resume.

lbmustache

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Re: Case Study: Putting out Severe Hair Fire…then Unemployment. Scared!
« Reply #18 on: August 03, 2015, 08:39:31 PM »
I work in academia too, but liberal arts so jobs are scarce for me. Right now I teach at community colleges (which is an option for you), but with a Ph.D. you should be at a 4 year college/university. My pay starts anywhere around $50-$60 a unit (would be more you for, I only have a M.A.) and a class is 3 units. You can teach as many or as few classes as you want, giving you flexibility with the kids.

Quite frankly, come out west. California has a desperate need for math/science teachers, at all levels. You could get a tenure-track job out here. Downside: far from your family; high cost of living. HCOL can be mitigated some if you move out to areas like Riverside which are cheaper, but still have major universities and schools. Plus if anyone would be prepared to deal with a plethora of allergies and food issues, it would be Californians. It's worth a shot :)

tj

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Re: Case Study: Putting out Severe Hair Fire…then Unemployment. Scared!
« Reply #19 on: August 03, 2015, 09:13:13 PM »
I work in academia too, but liberal arts so jobs are scarce for me. Right now I teach at community colleges (which is an option for you), but with a Ph.D. you should be at a 4 year college/university. My pay starts anywhere around $50-$60 a unit (would be more you for, I only have a M.A.) and a class is 3 units. You can teach as many or as few classes as you want, giving you flexibility with the kids.

Quite frankly, come out west. California has a desperate need for math/science teachers, at all levels. You could get a tenure-track job out here. Downside: far from your family; high cost of living. HCOL can be mitigated some if you move out to areas like Riverside which are cheaper, but still have major universities and schools. Plus if anyone would be prepared to deal with a plethora of allergies and food issues, it would be Californians. It's worth a shot :)

Is a class a single teaching session or a semester long course?

I'm assuming they meant $50/hr per unit. Most courses are 3 or 4 units. Who knows if he is on quarters or semesters.

lbmustache

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Re: Case Study: Putting out Severe Hair Fire…then Unemployment. Scared!
« Reply #20 on: August 03, 2015, 10:36:38 PM »

I'm assuming they meant $50/hr per unit. Most courses are 3 or 4 units. Who knows if he is on quarters or semesters.
Is a class a single teaching session or a semester long course?

Sorry, should have clarified. Also I am a woman ;) A class is one semester long, 3 units = 3 hours, over 16 weeks, which is 48 hours. So depending on your discipline, educational level, etc. a class is approx $2600 a semester. It will be spread out over 4-5 months depending on the way the school is set up.

I teach 5 classes per semester, which is about 20-25 hours of work if I include prep time, grading, answering student emails. The classes themselves amount to 15 hours. It's nice, enables a 4 day (or less) work week, where the days are pretty much half days if that.

It's a decent amount of pay if you're mustachian (I earn approx $2800 after taxes, but I am single, no kids). I also live in a coastal metropolitan city, $2800 would go a lot further in a different city like I suggested. I can offer more info (pros, cons, etc.) if anyone is interested, but as someone in California, a state which is BEGGING for math and science teachers, I can't imagine that the OP would not be able to get a job here, especially in a "less desirable" area like Riverside - goes back to the black jellybeans idea. :)

lhamo

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Re: Case Study: Putting out Severe Hair Fire…then Unemployment. Scared!
« Reply #21 on: August 03, 2015, 11:30:14 PM »
Have you asked the people who gave you the equipment for help in getting it reassembled?  Seems like something they might be willing/able to help with given the circumstances.  Barring that, finding a good technician and paying for them to come and get things up and running might be worth considering, if you really do have paying clients waiting for the service.

Could you also look at moving to places where they are having teacher shortages, esp in STEM fields? 

john c

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Re: Case Study: Putting out Severe Hair Fire…then Unemployment. Scared!
« Reply #22 on: August 04, 2015, 12:17:20 AM »
I think your strongest option is to get the business up and running, whatever it takes.  At the same time, have your husband do whatever it takes for him to get a job.  It seems like once your business is up and running, you could then look for a better place to live, moving the business when the time comes.

I'm in California, and while jobs pay well, it's not in line with the COL.  You'll do better on $36k in MO than $85k in CA.  Housing prices and rents here are out of sight, and going up 10% each year. 

With your emergency fund, you will be okay.  And getting a viable business going will be the best thing for your family, in the long run.

justajane

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Re: Case Study: Putting out Severe Hair Fire…then Unemployment. Scared!
« Reply #23 on: August 04, 2015, 05:45:09 AM »
Since you have a Ph.D., have you ever thought about bringing in income by editing dissertations? I don't know how your field of science works, but there's always a market for people to edit journal articles and dissertations, particularly for ESL students. This can be done from anywhere. I do this while staying home with my kids (have a humanities Ph.D.) and some months I can pull in upwards of $1,000.  American Journal Experts is the most well-known editing firm, but there are plenty of others. I imagine people in the sciences would be even more in demand than the humanities.
Wow.  I have my master's in neuroscience and my husband has his PhD and neither of us had heard of this.  How did you get started?

I did some google searches to find editing firms. I e-mailed a few my resume and told them why they should hire me. One responded, and I have been working for them ever since. I am thinking of some day starting my own company, but this would require me to be involved with getting payment and dealing directly with clients. Right now all I do is edit. But I get paid less.

I consider writing student papers for the lazy and pathological unethical and decided a long time ago that I would not do this, unless I literally needed to do so to feed my kids or keep the heat on. Having dealt with plagiarism as a teaching assistant, I find the practice abhorrent.
I'll take a look around thanks.  Though if you did start a company, I would be interested in sending you a resume.

Gin - I imagine for medical editing you would be particularly well placed. Many doctors neither have the time nor the desire to polish their manuscripts, but they need or want to publish. Someone like me can't readily edit their specialized research. They need someone that knows the terminology. Here's an example -- http://www.medicaljournaleditors.com/. They don't list if they hire, but neither did the one I went with. I just sent a resume to their contact e-mail. Editing journal articles might be better if you have a day job, because when I do dissertations, they usually take a lot of time, i.e. I am working a full time job for a couple of days. Clients usually want a relatively quick turnaround. The longest I have had to edit a dissertation was 10 or so days. Sometimes they want hundreds of pages in a few days. It can be draining. Sometimes the ones hiring an editor are not the ones who planned ahead enough to give you a month to get it done, although the result would be so much better if they would give me more time.

Maybe all the Ph.D.s on the MMM forums who want a side hustle should ban together on here and start a company..... :) Then we can take all the money for ourselves. I imagine the firm I work for takes at least 50% of the pay.

maryofdoom

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Re: Case Study: Putting out Severe Hair Fire…then Unemployment. Scared!
« Reply #24 on: August 04, 2015, 08:35:21 AM »
Gin - I imagine for medical editing you would be particularly well placed. Many doctors neither have the time nor the desire to polish their manuscripts, but they need or want to publish. Someone like me can't readily edit their specialized research. They need someone that knows the terminology. Here's an example -- http://www.medicaljournaleditors.com/. They don't list if they hire, but neither did the one I went with. I just sent a resume to their contact e-mail. Editing journal articles might be better if you have a day job, because when I do dissertations, they usually take a lot of time, i.e. I am working a full time job for a couple of days. Clients usually want a relatively quick turnaround. The longest I have had to edit a dissertation was 10 or so days. Sometimes they want hundreds of pages in a few days. It can be draining. Sometimes the ones hiring an editor are not the ones who planned ahead enough to give you a month to get it done, although the result would be so much better if they would give me more time.

Maybe all the Ph.D.s on the MMM forums who want a side hustle should ban together on here and start a company..... :) Then we can take all the money for ourselves. I imagine the firm I work for takes at least 50% of the pay.

Ugh, not to threadjack, but I am looking at hanging out my shingle for exactly this purpose. I've been doing freelance editing for about twelve years now...I started with papers for my dad and now have branched out into working with many more authors. Right now I'm in the middle of a book project that pays $75/hour, and for which I'm already 100 hours in.

Anyone who wants to talk about this more - let's have a PM discussion and see what we can come up with. I mean, I need to put the back end together and figure out how to get more clients, but once I do, someone will need to work on their papers. :)

OP, I wish you the best of luck and I think you've gotten some great suggestions in this thread. And if you want to talk about freelance editing, send me a message. :)

tj

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Re: Case Study: Putting out Severe Hair Fire…then Unemployment. Scared!
« Reply #25 on: August 04, 2015, 09:21:47 AM »
I think your strongest option is to get the business up and running, whatever it takes.  At the same time, have your husband do whatever it takes for him to get a job.  It seems like once your business is up and running, you could then look for a better place to live, moving the business when the time comes.

I'm in California, and while jobs pay well, it's not in line with the COL.  You'll do better on $36k in MO than $85k in CA.  Housing prices and rents here are out of sight, and going up 10% each year.

With your emergency fund, you will be okay.  And getting a viable business going will be the best thing for your family, in the long run.

Those are both exaggerations, in my opinion.

Cassie

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Re: Case Study: Putting out Severe Hair Fire…then Unemployment. Scared!
« Reply #26 on: August 04, 2015, 12:32:23 PM »
School in Nevada starts 8/10 & their is a huge teacher shortage in both the South & North end of the state. They will be opening the school year with subs. They are also offering a bonus for new teachers as an incentive to come.

Mongoose

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Re: Case Study: Putting out Severe Hair Fire…then Unemployment. Scared!
« Reply #27 on: August 24, 2015, 07:19:38 AM »
Update: We are still in the job hunt and have submitted a ton of applications. DH has had several more interviews in different places and we're hoping for a hire decision. I haven't had much luck with getting in the door and have considered leaving my PhD off my resume. Not sure how to approach that since it would eliminate essentially all of my work history (a 20 year period with no employment seems like it might be rough to explain). I'm looking into temping or substitute teaching.

On a brighter note, the business equipment is fully functional. We are pushing that option as hard as we can as it has the potential to pay us soon and well. High season is in a couple of months and we only need 5% of the previous business back to pay the bills, or 10% to add health insurance and savings (after we get rid of the last of our debt).

Dicey

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Re: Case Study: Putting out Severe Hair Fire…then Unemployment. Scared!
« Reply #28 on: August 24, 2015, 08:12:25 AM »
Thanks for the update. I think that moving should take a back seat to getting the business up and running. With that as a possibility, I think moving would be a huge distraction and getting re-established would drain the EF dry too quickly . I agree with tj though, Riverside, CA would be a good combination of major university (UCR) and relatively low COLA for CA. And the schools wouldn't dare give you the runaround over dietary restrictions. I just wouldn't try moving before I got the business going. And if you really believe it is viable, consider the loan. A little jump start could be just what you need.

As to the problems with the school system, have you considered pulling your munchkins out and homeschooling them? Given your level of education, and the limited amount of time it actually takes vs. time wasted dicking around with clueless morons, it might not be as time-intensive as it would seem. The Frugal Girl homeschools her kids and has lots of good information. Check out this article.

http://www.thefrugalgirl.com/?s=why+i+homeschool.

Note: My sister has only an AA Degree and she homeschooled her four boys. I wasn't keen on the idea at first, but her kids have  grown up and turned into productive citizens.

Next, IDK if you can do this whilst unemployed, but look into HARP loans asap. Your mortgage interest rate is higher than it needs to be. Good luck and please keep us posted.

FIKristen

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Re: Case Study: Putting out Severe Hair Fire…then Unemployment. Scared!
« Reply #29 on: August 24, 2015, 09:42:02 AM »
Do you have any interest in teaching children and getting your kids out of that school system?  I know someone who started her own school in her home with 5-6 students whose parents pay $5,000-$10,000 each for the school year.   She gets paid higher than a normal teaching salary, has fewer students, and has more freedom/flexibility in curriculum.   The students get more individual attention and better results. 

Mongoose

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Re: Case Study: Putting out Severe Hair Fire…then Unemployment. Scared!
« Reply #30 on: August 24, 2015, 05:16:57 PM »
Thanks for the new ideas. We'll probably try like heck to get out of here as soon after the business is going well. We really do think it is viable since we bought out a 30 year old successful small company and the delay has been just getting the equipment put back together.

In hindsight, we should never have moved to a teeny, wee-dinky town where it is so far to drive for employment etc.

Kaikou

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Re: Case Study: Putting out Severe Hair Fire…then Unemployment. Scared!
« Reply #31 on: August 25, 2015, 03:37:48 AM »
Do you have any interest in teaching children and getting your kids out of that school system?  I know someone who started her own school in her home with 5-6 students whose parents pay $5,000-$10,000 each for the school year.   She gets paid higher than a normal teaching salary, has fewer students, and has more freedom/flexibility in curriculum.   The students get more individual attention and better results.


ooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhh

Dicey

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Re: Case Study: Putting out Severe Hair Fire…then Unemployment. Scared!
« Reply #32 on: August 25, 2015, 09:15:46 AM »
Is that a good

ooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhh
or a bad
Quote
ooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhh
?

MayDay

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Re: Case Study: Putting out Severe Hair Fire…then Unemployment. Scared!
« Reply #33 on: August 25, 2015, 09:46:23 AM »
I would definitely consider moving for a teaching job for you or your H, to a place in need of teachers.  Yes you will have moving expenses, but you would be able to pay them off fairly quickly. 

OTOH, it sounds like the business might be on the verge of being operational.  In that case, maybe plan for a move next summer, and have you or your H start teaching next school year in a bigger city/town, and have the business providing income as well for the SAH spouse.  You'll have the winter to save up moving money, and won't be in a rush to move, and can list your house in January or February. 


RunHappy

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Re: Case Study: Putting out Severe Hair Fire…then Unemployment. Scared!
« Reply #34 on: August 25, 2015, 10:48:13 AM »
I am another vote to move ASAP

I vote to move too.  whereever you can get a job, sell everything, etc.

Mongoose

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Update: DH finally has a job (box store) that starts tomorrow! Entry level but it's something and he is likely to be able to move into management with the same company in the near term. Pay isn't great but it will keep the wolves away. And he has benefits for the whole family.

We have our business fully open and are getting a few sales. Most of the previous clients are interested in working with us so hopefully it'll pick up soon so we can pay me.

The school has also ultimately capitulated and did the official health paperwork that they should've done last year. DD has a good teacher and so far this year has been mercifully low stress for her.

Ultimately we still are determined to move as soon as we can. Our house needs some work before we can realistically sell. DH's new company is likely to offer him a relocation with promotion in a couple of years if all goes well.

We know he just got the job but have had a debate as to what to do if the business takes off (early indications are that it might). DH is wondering about changing to working just our business full time when we get a reasonable cushion and can pay both of us full time for a number of months. It would be much easier with two of us working and we could advertise/attend trade shows etc. I'm leaning towards him keeping his newly acquired job until we are FI. Our stint of unemployment and difficulties finding a job are not things I ever want to repeat. His option would make the business easier and grow faster...I'm wanting more security.

lhamo

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Congratulations on your progress!  You've come a long way in a very short time.

Give your DH some time to settle into his job, and yourself some time to develop the business, before you start making decisions about or even discussing long-term financial and career plans.  Make building up a big-pile-o-cash (or other assets that work in your favor) a goal.  Right now you are still coming out of the shock of a recent setback.  If things go well with the business, hopefully you will never be in that position again.  If it gets to the point where you have more work than you can handle yourself, you are going to need to take on additional staff anyway -- maybe at that point in time it will make sense for your DH to join you in that endeavor.  Or maybe he will love big box life.  Take it slow.  You don't have to panic anymore, and that's a very good thing.

Mongoose

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I start a part-time 6 month contract tomorrow. It is in my previous field which doesn't excite me at all but it is a chance to earn some extra money.  I have worked with this group before. We won't need child care. We will have to increase commute spending but that should be absorbed by my salary.


Our current stats (monthly)


Gross Salary Wages
$1200 DH box store
~$1800 me (6 month contract, part time)


DHs income includes weekly overtime...he is scheduled for the last management training soon. Some months he makes more but I'm budgeting with the lowest number. Big box store is very happy with him. The pay sucks and the hours suck for family time but we are managing. He does have time to work on our business and is very happy to be out of public school teaching. I might (long shot and not sure I want to) be able to keep the part time contract working around his hours and extend the 6 months indefinitely. Pros: even more money. Cons: high pressure job with a really long commute (90 mile round trip).


Other income (potential): business has picked up but we have kept the money in the company. Several clients have requested additional services (including several who want one stop shopping..."we would love to use you for x if you could also add y."). We got a grant and have obtained the equipment to do the most requested other service. We are in the last stages of testing and hoping to add it to our offerings this quarter. Our other equipment is in service and bringing in some money to keep the business open. It is growing but the slowness can be frustrating.
 
Other assets
401k/403b $265,120
Emergency Fund $12,993 (Down from $14,072)


We have been living off the emergency fund plus DH's pitiful salary (started end of September) since August. Have lost a bit over $1000, which is discouraging. On the other hand, due to a selling spree, we have managed to only lose $1000 despite spending some extra ($726) to fix up the house after the cellulose tile ceiling collapsed. Have maybe $500 worth of junk left to sell.


Previous spending of $2275 has increased to a budget of $2775 due to commute and added health insurance for 4 people. Will likely increase to $2975 for my commute.


Credit card debt:$12,600 (no progress here since it was used for car repair during period of total unemployment). I want this gone but can only pay minimum ($248 per month).


Take home:$3000. Expenses: $2975. Left: $25.


My guess is I will redirect this to kids clothes and expenses instead of savings. The bad news is we won't be saving. The good news is that we won't be losing money. If DH really gets the bump to manager (don't want to get my hopes up), he would likely increase to ~$3000 take home and we could pay off most of the credit card soon.

[/size]
[size=78%] [/size][/size][size=78%]Big picture, once you get the employment thing figured out...[/size]2.  Turn the small business into a real business ASAP, while one of you finds any work that's available (minimum wage or whatever).


Option #2 is a bit riskier, but I think it could be a lot more rewarding long term.  There's something appealing about choosing your own clients and hours.  I'm sure it will still be hard, but it would add a degree of life flexibility that you won't get working for someone else.[/size]



DH is very much in favor of this option and wants to stay put 2 years to get the business to grow more. I'm semi resigned to being stuck here for that length of time although I totally hate where we live. I'm not sure how much longer than that I am willing to tolerate and am reluctant to even stay that long. He could probably get moved up quicker if we could move in 6 months but we would have to move several times (every 2 years or so) and we aren't sure about relocating the business and kids that much.


We have been fixing up our handyman special house on the very cheap plan so it will hopefully sell when we want to move. It keeps me a bit happier since it is something I can actively do to help us escape. Expected expenses to finish house: $500


Specific Questions
1. Our food budget ($400 for 4 with dairy-egg allergies/celiac) is tough. I would like to either increase this or figure out better stuff to eat. Anyone doing paleo (or close) for a family at this level? We don't have time/room to grow our own right now. The info I've found is $5/day per person as "cheap" but that is $200 over my budget.
2. I would love to start cycling again (for fun, not a 90 mile commute; I'm nowhere near that badass!) but am not sure about the hills. We live in a town with very few flat spots. Mostly it is very, very steep. I have never seen anyone on a bicycle here. Any tips for an absolutely out-of-shape and hasn't cycled in years type to survive (better yet, enjoy?) cycling here?
3. Do we stick it out the two years to grow the business or pull the plug this summer? DH is adamant to stay awhile but he could easily move up and to a different location with big box store. I have little patience for living here. If I could figure out a plan to have a hard set moving time while not shutting the business, he might agree (and an end date for this experience would help me as long as we have a semi-solid plan to end up in a better situation).
4. Other than pay off the idiot credit card debt, figure out how the hell to get out of rural Missouri, and invest a bunch of money (hahahaha, that seems like a pipe dream just now), any other advice that might help (especially with regards to not getting too annoyed with small-town-I-hate life)?
5. How hard should I push to extend the 6-month contract? It is high stress but with congenial people..very long commute. Extending it would likely require me to find/obtain grant money with very low funding percentages.








ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Why do you hate the location so much, again?

Mongoose

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Why do you hate the location so much, again?

Mostly it is the isolation and the local school.

1. Absolutely horrible school system (cannot manage my oldest's 504, few offerings, poor quality teachers, inept administration, education is not valued). We considered homeschooling but I would want at least a homeschool group and the nearest one is 45 miles away. This is, by far, the biggest problem for me. Our oldest is very social and would be pretty bummed without people outside just our little family. We are currently supplementing with afterschooling to at least address the worst educational deficiencies. The 504 issues are an ongoing battle.
2. Very insular community that does not welcome outsiders (locally defined as people whose at least grandparents aren't from here...not an exaggeration).  We are quite far from family and friends. This last is admittedly not the area's fault.
3. Very long commute (45 miles to the nearest town where there are specialty items in the grocery store and jobs; 20 miles to a store that has fresh produce). Tractors and herds of sheep and cows in the road are common. I don't have a problem with any of those per say, it just means we have to plan on 1.5 hours on the way to work to accommodate the delays. It is a long drive.
4. No offense to anyone who might like the rural Midwest, but this area is not our cup of tea. We're not interested in living in a huge city but DH and I find this area somewhat depressing...maybe because large swaths of it are rundown and severely economically depressed. We are not overly fond of the climate either.

In hindsight, we should not have moved here. DH had decided he really wanted to teach at a rural school and, in this state he could get a teaching license right away due to going to graduate school here. We had to move and needed a job. So here we are. He was replaced after last year by two part-timers to save the school money. The bigger town 45 miles away where we will both now work would have been the obvious choice...ironically, we were trying to keep him from having a long commute. Moving now would entail selling the house and relocating our business (in a separate building on our property). Big town is also much more expensive. I had thought to live there in an apartment and commute the other way to work the business but haven't figured out a way to work that logistically with kids' school and our work schedules. And it would add $800 in extra expenses.

On the plus side, the place is very safe and there is no temptation to spend money. It is a long drive to even the nearest fast food restaurant so we never eat out.

pbkmaine

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How important is this business to your future? Because it seems to me that moving somewhere closer to work with a good school district would be a very good idea.

pbkmaine

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Also, there are many parts of the country where math and science teachers are in great demand, particularly at the high school level. My own high school chemistry teacher, who was wonderful, had a PhD from Michigan.

icemodeled

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Interesting to read your journey. So glad you have found work and things are improving. We live in a rural, economicl depressed area of ohio, so I can relate to you wanting to move. DH and I are late 20s, no kids so we are not interested in the country living/lack of job/social aspects at this time. We hope to move this year but its tough picking up and move as we have to sell our home and rental property. It sounds like your business has potential and would be great if in time you are both able to survive off of it. That commute is awful, I cannot image having a 1.5 hour drive to and from work. I hope the business picks up or you can find work elsewhere then move. I personally would focus on moving closer to work first and hopefully still be able to get clients for the business.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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The school thing makes sense as a reason to get out. Question 2: when do you think you'll be able to take a salary from the business?

Question 3: Is the business movable?

green daisy

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With Section 504 and the ADA, the way to seek enforcement is not through the state, but rather through your regional office of the Federal DOE Office for Civil Rights.  All OCR offices offer "technical support" over the phone, so you could call them with questions.  You can also file a formal complaint against your district.  OCR is required to investigate all complaints. That said, MO has a notoriously horrible OCR office when it comes to food allergies.  But denying your child with life threatening food allergies or celiac a 504 Plan is discriminatory.  Now that your child has the 504, it is a violation for the school not to follow it.  Also, since your issues are hot lunch related, you could go through the USDA OCR and bypass the MO regional office.  But for any issues not related to the Federal hot lunch program, you'd be stuck with the MO OCR. 

It sounds like things are looking up for you.  Just wanted to pass that along in case the school situation falls apart again. Also, there is an amazing online support group if you Google Food Allergy Support Olicentral (not sure if I can link it directly). Also, FAAN and FAACT are two great resources for food allergies.  They also occasionally provide legal assistance in cases like yours, although most often, this comes in the form of advice, rather than helping you file anything.

 
« Last Edit: January 04, 2016, 07:54:37 AM by green daisy »

honeybbq

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Re: Case Study: Putting out Severe Hair Fire…then Unemployment. Scared!
« Reply #45 on: January 04, 2016, 12:35:31 PM »
Yes, this salary is abysmal for a PhD. DH has been out of research long enough to make re-entry difficult. I have recent experience as an asst prof but my department was closed so everyone was out on the job search. My field is undergoing a major contraction.

I hadn't thought of dissertation proofing or online teaching. I'm somewhat lost having literally not worked outside a university since I was 17. Thanks!

We have contacted the school board and are on to the state about the school problems. The state says the school's paperwork is inadequate. We are trying to wedge her onto a 504 but the school is refusing (we just ain't never done it that way). The state is trying to figure out who has jurisdiction to help.

If you are at U of M, consider trying WashU.....

Mongoose

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Thanks for the responses. We pack the kiddos lunches so we are unfortunately stuck with OCR. There is no way I would trust this school to get a specialty lunch correct.

How important is this business to your future? Because it seems to me that moving somewhere closer to work with a good school district would be a very good idea.

This is, I guess, the big question. I'm a skeptic by nature so my first answer is "I don't know." If it takes off like it could (and was doing for the original owners of the equipment), it could make FI a real possibility. This is fairly likely given what our current and prospective clients have indicated. Best guess is 60% likely to eventually take off and pay one or both of us full-time plus dividends. At worst, it will probably pay half of one technical salary with part-time hours for at least a few years. It is probably mostly a matter of surviving long enough to get all our offerings available and then getting the work done. We can do both but the time frame on the offerings being available  is unclear given our schedules. Big town where we work has a good school district but not many rentals and much higher taxes and property values. Unfortunately, I currently can't figure out how to come up with the cash for a move in the near term without shutting the business down. Since I am the one dealing directly with the school and I now also have a long commute, it is resulting in a ton of frustration with the pace of the business development. I have never commuted more than 5 miles before.

There is a possibility of moving to a different location with DH's box store job and moving to a higher salary that way. DH is reluctant to go that route since our own business has been slowly picking up and he should be moving to a higher salary at the current big box location soon. I may just need an attitude adjustment to stick it out here for a max of 2 years (does this seem like a reasonable compromise on the time frame?).

The school thing makes sense as a reason to get out. Question 2: when do you think you'll be able to take a salary from the business? It could vary from around 3 months to a year. That is my best guess; I could be wrong (DH is an optimist so he would say around 3 months). If we keep it running at this level for 2 more years but aren't getting a salary, I am very likely to pull the plug and sell off the assets. I am inclined if that happens to sell everything we can't easily move and try to get any job elsewhere that has good schools and short commutes.

Question 3: Is the business movable?
It is somewhat movable to anywhere in the U.S. (as long as we can get some supplies delivered which are relatively easy to obtain). All actual business is done via shipping. The caveat is we need a location with the appropriate electrical, access, etc and the funding for a location/modifications. The equipment is technically portable but is very heavy and somewhat sensitive to breakages (fixable but moderately expensive).
« Last Edit: May 28, 2016, 08:48:14 AM by Mongoose »

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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I'm curious if a business incubation center or similar program could help you move your business. This is one near me but the model is not uncommon - they provide suitable space and other help. Some offer incentives too for moving a business with growth potential to wherever they are. (Again, the link is a local example because that's what I know about).

Have you looked into that?

Mongoose

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Final update (because it helps me to see the progress and close the scary chapter of our lives.)

A little over a year has passed and things are going great!

We still have all our retirement funds and a lot of our savings. We sold a lot of clutter to get through the last year (double bonus!). When I first posted, those funds were locked in a post-severance waiting period. They are now available (we don't need them but we could access them if we wanted to).

DH got a temporary job at a box store. The pay sucked but he made enough to slow the money hemorrhage. He just started a much better paying job...it will cover all our expenses! We have great benefits and can start saving a bit again.

Our business has grown to the point where we could probably pay one of us part time but we are reinvesting the money right now to help it grow more. We don't need the pay to feed ourselves so we have the luxury of helping it grow.

The frantic need to move is much reduced because we decided to homeschool the kids (another luxury brought to us by Mr. Mongoose's new job).

And finally, while I found the whole experience to be horribly stressful and frightening, it had a silver lining. DH is very keen on FIRE now and dead serious about reforming his spendypants ways. He did not enjoy the unemployment or working for minimum wage and is determined to make sure that never happens again.

So nice to see the fruits of the hard work. And I am very grateful for all the ideas, information and encouragement from the folks here. THANK YOU! Onward to FIRE!

Feminine Mustique

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It's great to read this! So happy things are turning around.