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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: mporter012 on March 01, 2017, 07:13:33 PM

Title: living simply, still broke!
Post by: mporter012 on March 01, 2017, 07:13:33 PM
Here's my deal. 32 y/o male, single/no kids, no savings, $30,000 in student loans, $5,000 credit card (in a debt reduction program called ACCC) with payoff 03/2018. The credit card debt is old: nowadays I live a VERY simple life, much to the tune of MMM.
I studied sociology at university and never really figured out how to be a ''professional'' person, so to speak. Tried social work but didn't enjoy it really. I spent several years working menial jobs pursuing art and just having fun living in Chicago, then became interested in sustainable agriculture and started working on organic farms, and worked up to a management position at a farm in Pennsylvania, but the money was never great because we were in a poor market.

So I'm in this situation where I've become really passionate about sustainable agriculture/cooking/baking, but I'm also an artist, and attempting to find a logical path forward in my life to get financial freedom. Their is certainly money in sustainable farming, and I'm talking to some investors now about the possibility of starting a farm of my own, but I also don't necessarily want to have that much responsibility, and have a bit of a fear of going more broke if it doesn't work out.

MMM said on Tim Ferriss's show that "making money is easy." I WISH!!

WTF am I doing wrong? I'm a smart dude, did really well in school, and am generally upbeat, happy, and enjoying life, I'm just on this path to financial ruin, despite living simply.

Save me!

Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: undercover on March 01, 2017, 11:30:30 PM
Go where the money is? Getting rich from farming sounds about as easy as getting rich from starting an airline.

I mean, it's pretty simple. When you don't make a lot of money, you don't save a lot. Consider looking into sales or a more technical career path. You might have to suck it up for a while and do something you don't necessarily think you'll enjoy (which you may end up doing so) in order to start moving in the right direction.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: marty998 on March 01, 2017, 11:52:13 PM
Sorry if this comes across as brutal... but I can point out problems in every line

Here's my deal. 32 y/o male, single/no kids, no savings (this means you have problems everytime a large expense comes up, which put you into a hole you need to dig out of), $30,000 in student loans(32 and still have loans means you've paid a lot of interest over the years), $5,000 credit card (in a debt reduction program called ACCC) (You should have no revolving credit card debt) with payoff 03/2018. The credit card debt is old: nowadays I live a VERY simple life, much to the tune of MMM.
I studied sociology (why? What career was this heading towards?)at university and never really figured out how to be a ''professional'' person (hint, this is where the money is) so to speak. Tried social work but didn't enjoy it really (social work exposes you to the worst of society... you need to have strong resilience and support networks to endure it). I spent several years working menial jobs pursuing art and just having fun living in Chicago (menial jobs + having fun in an expensive city = no money leftover), then became interested in sustainable agriculture and started working on organic farms(this is another problem), and worked up to a management position at a farm in PennsylvaniaOk this is a really really good sign, things are turning around!, but the money was never great because we were in a poor market oh crap..

So I'm in this situation where I've become really passionate about sustainable agriculture/cooking/baking(good to know you've figured out your passion), but I'm also an artist(ok unless you are Picasso, you're not going to make a huge living out of this, and even then, Picasso only made a shit ton of money when he died), and attempting to find a logical path forward in my life to get financial freedom. Their is certainly money in sustainable farming, and I'm talking to some investors now about the possibility of starting a farm of my own, but I also don't necessarily want to have that much responsibility(Gah! Yes you do. This is where the money is), and have a bit of a fear of going more broke if it doesn't work out. (Take a chance - only certainty about not doing anything is carrying on as you are)

MMM said on Tim Ferriss's show that "making money is easy." I WISH!!

WTF am I doing wrong? I'm a smart dude, did really well in school, and am generally upbeat, happy, and enjoying life, I'm just on this path to financial ruin, despite living simply.

Save me!


Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: Jon Bon on March 02, 2017, 05:36:24 AM
Welcome to the Forms!

You have got to spend some time chasing money if you want to get out of debt and or retire. It sounds like you have spent some time chasing jobs that give you fulfillment and not necessarily a good paycheck. This is a fine path, but it comes with a trade-off. It sounds like you have been living on the edge of your finances for a while and just now are starting to pull it all together. Posting a  case study might be the thing for you so the community can give directed advice.

If you truly are living a MMM lifestyle you have got to increase your income to FIRE, it is the only way. You need to find work that pays, this can be entrepreneurial or it can be more traditional. Maybe you end up working for Monsanto, but you need the paycheck more then you need your ideals right now, no? I only say this because I have watched family members chase fulfillment in their work and only end up with a empty bank account and piles of debt.

Making money is easy!!!!!* (but you need to have some experience) You need that work experience, maybe share some more of the types of jobs you have gotten? That will help us help you.

Good luck and go apply for some jobs now!  Seriously, sign off the forums and find some postings to apply too. Do this   every.   single.   week.   This is how I did it, its not fun, but I set a time 1 day a week which I would check the boards and apply to at least 1 job that looked appealing.


Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: Villanelle on March 02, 2017, 05:42:35 AM
Making money probably would be fairly easy.  But you have to be willing to do the things that actually make money.

For now, your art and farming aren't making money. And that's okay.  You just need to decide what you want more--breathing room in your budget, or to follow those passions and not have to be a "professional".

In your shoes, I would likely commit myself to working any and every decent paying job I could find for at least 5 years.  Or you could set a goal of having $x in savings before you can quite.  If you keep your expenses super low, you may then have enough saved that you can live off that and a part time job, while spending most of your time on your art and farming hobbies (which may also bring in money, in which case they are a nice side hustle).

Also, look for other ways to create income.  If you know a lot about sustainable farming, consider self-publishing an e-book.  Or better yet, several related e-books.  Create art classes and find a cheap place to run them.  (Paint and wine parties seem to be huge right now, and while that may not be serious art, it seems like it could be serious side-hustle money.  Likewise, art parties for kids are popping up all over my Facebook page, so clearly that's A Thing.)

It seems like you want to have your cake and eat it too--not have to work at a "professional" job, but have professional-job money. 
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: YttriumNitrate on March 02, 2017, 06:55:46 AM
I would also suggest you tune out all the sustainable farming gurus selling books, classes, etc. In that particular space it seems like there are several profitable media companies going around portraying themselves as profitable farms.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: GuitarStv on March 02, 2017, 07:09:16 AM
Making money is easy.  You just have to work hard at something that people need until you become very good at it and someone is willing to pay you lots of money.

You talk a lot about passion . . . and I really think that's a bad way forward.  You don't need to be passionate about your work.  You don't need to follow your dream.  You need to be able to tolerate it,  work hard at it, and learn to be good at it.  You need to slowly improve until you have valuable skills, and then you need to chase the good paying jobs.

From your post it kinda sounds like you've been searching for a hobby - not a career.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: Reynolds531 on March 02, 2017, 07:13:29 AM
I think he wants us to help him define what the something is that he's supposed to do.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: former player on March 02, 2017, 07:13:54 AM
I'm not sure OP needs any more exhortations to make money, he needs to know how to do it.  Which pretty much means breaking into the "professional" classes, something he has failed to do.

How does someone in the US, intelligent and educated but without contacts and experience in the professional world, get to the position where they are earning a "professional" level salary?  How does this person get out of poverty?  What is the magical stepping stone?

There are millions of people in a similar position: stuck at entry-level/poverty-level earnings.  How do you get to be one of the few lucky ones that makes it out of there?
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: charis on March 02, 2017, 07:45:24 AM
I'm not sure OP needs any more exhortations to make money, he needs to know how to do it.  Which pretty much means breaking into the "professional" classes, something he has failed to do.

How does someone in the US, intelligent and educated but without contacts and experience in the professional world, get to the position where they are earning a "professional" level salary?  How does this person get out of poverty?  What is the magical stepping stone?

There are millions of people in a similar position: stuck at entry-level/poverty-level earnings.  How do you get to be one of the few lucky ones that makes it out of there?

You have to get those contacts (seek them out / look for possible contacts in your own world that you may not have considered before) and work in the professional world.  Be flexible, jump at opportunities, and follow the money. 
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: Mr. Green on March 02, 2017, 07:59:46 AM
What about indoor growing, like aquaponics or areoponics. It seems like they're the next big thing for some types of growing. I've read articles where companies are now growing lettuce and other vegetables indoors and the yields they're getting are phenomenal. I don't know what kinds of jobs are associated with those places but I'm sure there are people that have to make sure all the hardware associated with growing is operating properly, etc. It's a new enough field I'm sure they're still researching what kinds of light grow plants the best, what kind of fertilizers produce the best yields, etc. The link below is an article about a company in Japan but I know there companies here in the US doing it too.

http://www.ecowatch.com/worlds-largest-vegetable-factory-revolutionizes-indoor-farming-1882004257.html
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: SKL-HOU on March 02, 2017, 08:09:34 AM
You don't sound like you want to do anything except whatever is fun for you. Unfortunately your idea of fun doesn't seem to translate into much money.
You tried social work, didn't like it... well a lot of people work jobs they don't like.
You want to get into farming but you don't want to take responsibility... without responsibility, you don't have many options but menial jobs.
You never figured out how to be a "profession"... well learn it now.
You can be the smartest person in the world, you can graduate at the top of your class but if you don't want to work, then you are not going to make any money. I am not sure what kind of magic you are looking for. You are living simply but when you don't have the income to even live simply, you will not get anywhere.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: pbkmaine on March 02, 2017, 08:19:23 AM
Are you still in Pennsylvania? I would look for an entry-level job at Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences. You will be surrounded by a topic that interests you and paid a living wage. Your farm experience will actually look good on your resume. State College has a vibrant arts community, too.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: Fishindude on March 02, 2017, 08:25:24 AM
Lot's of good advice here. 
Time for a career change to something that is in demand and pays well, or get used to being poor.
 
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: ElleFiji on March 02, 2017, 08:32:09 AM
Oh, hi!

So I studied philosophy. I don't regret it, but by 26 I knew it wasn't going to let me be financially stable or independent. So I trained for a dream job I was passionate about (this is your farming). A step up for both of us, because at least we'd finally worked out that we need to have a job that actually exists.

But guess what? Farming and my passion, both had more opportunities than nothing, but often are at a subsistence level.

Explore your farming options hard, and your living options harder. You need a career that will pay you double what you can live on.

Pbkmaine has an excellent idea for how to keep your passion in your work. Otherwise look at lists of jobs that don't require a degree to make more than $50 000, and go after one of them hard, while keeping painting and farming on the side
 You can be a full time artist/farmer soon if you FIRE.

I'm one year into my 3rd career, and am making more than I ever had before. It's possible.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: pbkmaine on March 02, 2017, 08:37:09 AM
https://psu.jobs/jobs
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: lthenderson on March 02, 2017, 09:00:50 AM
I've never really heard the phrases "rich artist" or "well-to-do artist" in a conversation but I have heard the phrase "starving artist" lots of times. I'm guessing there is a reason for that.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: Sailor Sam on March 02, 2017, 09:11:48 AM
You should read MonsterMonster's journal. She's also passionate, and lived in voluntary poverty for many years. You might find some stuff that resonates. Ladystache in Baja also has a journal, where she describes the life of an expat farming in Mexico. They seem like people you should network with, for more concrete ideas.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: ShoulderThingThatGoesUp on March 02, 2017, 09:24:50 AM
What is your source of income now?
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: mporter012 on March 02, 2017, 09:36:47 AM
Thanks for all the replies. Lot's of great ideas.

So I probably apply to 5 jobs a week, sometimes more. So I'm applying. I have a coherent resume, but it leans heavily towards horticulture/botony/farming and as I've stated, the best I could hope for would be to get a job that pays $40,000 in these fields, unless I'd go back and get a PhD in Botany, and teach, then I'd be looking at more debt, and still, the money isn't great.

I'm certainly willing to relocate and just about anything/everything. The challenge is, what the hell do I do!? Just out of curiosity, I went through the US News and World Report's list of the Top 100 occupations in the US, and it's basically medicine and tech. I haven't an ounce of interest in medicine, and I'm a world class hypochondriac, so that's out! Tech is a possibility, of course, but I have no education in anything tech related. I could go back to school, but this seems anti-FIRE.

I'm not necessarily hell bent on retirement, but I can clearly see the path ahead: With $40,000 annual salary jobs, even living like GHANDI, I won't be even remotely close to FIRE until I'm 70. Case in point: If I live off of $20,000 a year. I need $500,000 to get to that 25x annual spending #. That will take me 25 years. That assumes nothing f-ed up happens, like I get sick and have absurd medical bills, have kids, etc.

What am I missing?
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: mporter012 on March 02, 2017, 09:39:12 AM
What is your source of income now?

I'm working with a small farm-to-table farm/restaurant group north of NYC. I make $2000/month, but have housing provided and, of course, my food costs are pretty low.

Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: Bracken_Joy on March 02, 2017, 09:46:31 AM
Thanks for all the replies. Lot's of great ideas.

So I probably apply to 5 jobs a week, sometimes more. So I'm applying. I have a coherent resume, but it leans heavily towards horticulture/botony/farming and as I've stated, the best I could hope for would be to get a job that pays $40,000 in these fields, unless I'd go back and get a PhD in Botany, and teach, then I'd be looking at more debt, and still, the money isn't great.

I'm certainly willing to relocate and just about anything/everything. The challenge is, what the hell do I do!? Just out of curiosity, I went through the US News and World Report's list of the Top 100 occupations in the US, and it's basically medicine and tech. I haven't an ounce of interest in medicine, and I'm a world class hypochondriac, so that's out! Tech is a possibility, of course, but I have no education in anything tech related. I could go back to school, but this seems anti-FIRE.

I'm not necessarily hell bent on retirement, but I can clearly see the path ahead: With $40,000 annual salary jobs, even living like GHANDI, I won't be even remotely close to FIRE until I'm 70. Case in point: If I live off of $20,000 a year. I need $500,000 to get to that 25x annual spending #. That will take me 25 years. That assumes nothing f-ed up happens, like I get sick and have absurd medical bills, have kids, etc.

What am I missing?

What you're missing, for one, is market returns. You're not stuffing all that cash into your mattress and waiting for retirement. You need to invest, and make your money work FOR you.

A couple blog posts you may not have seen, since it sounds like you came over from Ferriss' podcast (welcome!).
http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/01/13/the-shockingly-simple-math-behind-early-retirement/ (http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/01/13/the-shockingly-simple-math-behind-early-retirement/)
http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/07/25/50-jobs-over-50000-without-a-degree-part-1/ (http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/07/25/50-jobs-over-50000-without-a-degree-part-1/)
http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/08/05/50-jobs-over-50000-without-a-degree-part-2/ (http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/08/05/50-jobs-over-50000-without-a-degree-part-2/)
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: ElleFiji on March 02, 2017, 09:50:38 AM
32+17=49! That is lots before 70! Even with 5 years to hit those debt payments, you're going to be fine.

The two articles that BJ linked to are the lists I was talking about. It isn't too late, you aren't too poor, retirement is in sight
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: mporter012 on March 02, 2017, 09:51:53 AM
32+17=49! That is lots before 70! Even with 5 years to hit those debt payments, you're going to be fine.

The two articles that BJ linked to are the lists I was talking about. It isn't too late, you aren't too poor, retirement is in sight

Haha, ok I'm being a bit sensational! I'll check the articles out.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: Cali Nonya on March 02, 2017, 10:10:24 AM
Thinking about semi-flexible jobs that could boost your income, have you looking into fields such as being and insurance adjuster or tax accountant (or sales?).  These are usually flexible or seasonal, and can add that missing income, though in the short-term you will probably have to put the art on the back-burner.

Another thought is how seasonal is your farming?  If you have winters off (or better yet part of the summer), consider adding in some seasonal short-term positions that targets your off-season (such as seasonal based tourism).  Some things such as tour guides can make decent money, but it usually take a few years to get into the better positions.

Better paying work usually isn't anyone's passion.  You just need to be good and competent. 
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: monstermonster on March 02, 2017, 10:35:28 AM
Hi! I'm experienced at the being broke & struggling with the "earning" side of equation. I really have been having to learn how to have a profit motive, always having (like you) chased jobs that give me fulfillment at the expense of $$. I read the book Overcoming Underearning which is targeted at women but so helpful towards dealing with these things regardless of your gender.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: mporter012 on March 02, 2017, 10:43:17 AM
Hi! I'm experienced at the being broke & struggling with the "earning" side of equation. I really have been having to learn how to have a profit motive, always having (like you) chased jobs that give me fulfillment at the expense of $$. I read the book Overcoming Underearning which is targeted at women but so helpful towards dealing with these things regardless of your gender.

I'll check the book out.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: mporter012 on March 02, 2017, 10:45:58 AM
Interestingly enough, MMM's 50 jobs over $50,000 post has "boutique organic farmer" at #49.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: monstermonster on March 02, 2017, 10:48:23 AM
Interestingly enough, MMM's 50 jobs over $50,000 post has "boutique organic farmer" at #49.
I have never met an organic farmer who pulls in $50K a year after expenses, and I know a TON of organic farmers.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: mporter012 on March 02, 2017, 10:50:45 AM
Interestingly enough, MMM's 50 jobs over $50,000 post has "boutique organic farmer" at #49.
I have never met an organic farmer who pulls in $50K a year after expenses, and I know a TON of organic farmers.

Some organic farmers make really good money - see The Urban Farmer for an example. Curtis is making $100,000 on 1/3 acre. He's possibly the exception to the rule though. Everyone in the country eats 3x a day, don't forget, so there is money in it, for sure. I just can't seem to crack the code.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: I'm a red panda on March 02, 2017, 10:53:34 AM
unless I'd go back and get a PhD in Botany, and teach, then I'd be looking at more debt, and still, the money isn't great.


Can you get recruited into a program that will pay for your degree and pay you a stipend while you do it?
Many people make money WHILE doing their PhDs.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: monstermonster on March 02, 2017, 10:54:03 AM
Some organic farmers make really good money - see The Urban Farmer for an example. Curtis is making $100,000 on 1/3 acre. He's possibly the exception to the rule though. Everyone in the country eats 3x a day, don't forget, so there is money in it, for sure. I just can't seem to crack the code.
I'd never heard of him, just googled him and found the course Profitable Urban Farmer (http://profitableurbanfarming.com/about-the-course/) - I assume you've heard of it too? Is the $100K after expenses & COGS? I mostly know CSA farmers and boutique farm-to-table farmers, and they live well and simply and make good money overall, but after expenses, they are not pulling in 6 figures or even $50,000.

Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: mporter012 on March 02, 2017, 11:01:29 AM
Quote
I'd never heard of him, just googled him and found the course Profitable Urban Farmer (http://profitableurbanfarming.com/about-the-course/) - I assume you've heard of it too? Is the $100K after expenses & COGS? I mostly know CSA farmers and boutique farm-to-table farmers, and they live well and simply and make good money overall, but after expenses, they are not pulling in 6 figures or even $50,000.

Yea, I know of the course. It's too much $$, and my skill set is pretty advanced (not to be arrogant, at all...).

Yea, that's what I can't figure out. If he's grossing $100K and how high are the expenses. Yea, that's what I was doing - more a CSA style operation. I listen to this podcast called farmer to farmer and there are regularly farmers on his show that are pulling in 6 figure incomes, but I can never quite figure out whether they are full of shit or not.

I'm 75% through a business plan, and looking at my own numbers, the profit potential is there, but it's full of risks.

Check out 'The Market Gardener' for another example, if you're interested. Another Canadian!
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: Hargrove on March 02, 2017, 11:04:08 AM
You do not save literally 500k at 20k/yr, one year at a time. The market doubles the starting balance roughly every 10 years (counting inflation). At 40k, if you enjoy that job and you decide to prioritize it higher than money, you could retire early by living well.

If you prioritize big-money work instead, or temporarily prioritize big-money work, you could save 100-200k over 5-10 years and have retiring covered down the road, then go back to farming if that's your thing. I'm planning to save about 200k (167k + pension), then quit the rat race for dream jobs.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: mporter012 on March 02, 2017, 11:06:14 AM
You do not save literally 500k at 20k/yr, one year at a time. The market doubles the starting balance roughly every 10 years (counting inflation). At 40k, if you enjoy that job and you decide to prioritize it higher than money, you could retire early by living well.

If you prioritize big-money work instead, or temporarily prioritize big-money work, you could save 100-200k over 5-10 years and have retiring covered down the road, then go back to farming if that's your thing. I'm planning to save about 200k (167k + pension), then quit the rat race for dream jobs.

Can you elaborate? Or does MMM have an article on this? This is all new to me. I came over from the Tim Ferris podcast just this week.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: Bracken_Joy on March 02, 2017, 11:10:40 AM
You do not save literally 500k at 20k/yr, one year at a time. The market doubles the starting balance roughly every 10 years (counting inflation). At 40k, if you enjoy that job and you decide to prioritize it higher than money, you could retire early by living well.

If you prioritize big-money work instead, or temporarily prioritize big-money work, you could save 100-200k over 5-10 years and have retiring covered down the road, then go back to farming if that's your thing. I'm planning to save about 200k (167k + pension), then quit the rat race for dream jobs.

Can you elaborate? Or does MMM have an article on this? This is all new to me. I came over from the Tim Ferris podcast just this week.

What you're looking for is understanding the idea of "compound interest". http://www.businessinsider.com/amazing-power-of-compound-interest-2014-7 (http://www.businessinsider.com/amazing-power-of-compound-interest-2014-7) In the simplest terms, it is why debt is bad, and investing is good. It is why we do not have to save, dollar for dollar, nearly as much as we need to retire on.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: prognastat on March 02, 2017, 11:13:20 AM
You do not save literally 500k at 20k/yr, one year at a time. The market doubles the starting balance roughly every 10 years (counting inflation). At 40k, if you enjoy that job and you decide to prioritize it higher than money, you could retire early by living well.

If you prioritize big-money work instead, or temporarily prioritize big-money work, you could save 100-200k over 5-10 years and have retiring covered down the road, then go back to farming if that's your thing. I'm planning to save about 200k (167k + pension), then quit the rat race for dream jobs.

Can you elaborate? Or does MMM have an article on this? This is all new to me. I came over from the Tim Ferris podcast just this week.

Assuming you achieve the market average of 7% real return over those 10 years it will double the real value of your investments. If you were to put 100 on a calculator and multiply it by 1.07 10 times you would end up with 196.71(so almost doubled in real value). The actual dollar amount would be more than that since the non inflation adjusted return is 9% on average.

This is assuming you have the money invested in a diverse low fee index fund that closely matches the market for the whole 10 years and also does not count any fees/taxes.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: Vindicated on March 02, 2017, 11:19:36 AM
A Facebook friend of mine is selling services to friends to help them build garden boxes, and give gardening advice.  Maybe that's a side gig you could look into?
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: snacky on March 02, 2017, 11:38:00 AM
What is your source of income now?

I'm working with a small farm-to-table farm/restaurant group north of NYC. I make $2000/month, but have housing provided and, of course, my food costs are pretty low.

$2k a month and no housing costs? Where is this money going? I feed and house my whole family for $2k a month, so this amount for a single person with no housing expenses seems very high to me.

Sure, you could make more by changing what you're doing, but also, what are you doing with all this money?
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: mporter012 on March 02, 2017, 11:40:20 AM
Quote
Sure, you could make more by changing what you're doing, but also, what are you doing with all this money?

Well, this is a relatively new job, but the money is going straight towards these credit cards, and then I guess I have to figure out what I'm doing from there.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: monstermonster on March 02, 2017, 11:40:35 AM
What is your source of income now?

I'm working with a small farm-to-table farm/restaurant group north of NYC. I make $2000/month, but have housing provided and, of course, my food costs are pretty low.

$2k a month and no housing costs? Where is this money going? I feed and house my whole family for $2k a month, so this amount for a single person with no housing expenses seems very high to me.

Sure, you could make more by changing what you're doing, but also, what are you doing with all this money?
Yea is this pre-or-post tax $2000? Because that strongly points to you having big financial leaks if you're not able to pay down your debt & save on that kind of income.  Your income side of the equation is important, but the expense side is important as well if you don't know where 2 grand a month is going.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: monstermonster on March 02, 2017, 11:42:26 AM
This board loves to see:

Interested in working that out because we can help more if so. Are you tracking your spending now? You should be able to crush those credit cards in MONTHS instead of a whole year from now.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: mporter012 on March 02, 2017, 11:42:54 AM
Quote
Yea is this pre-or-post tax $2000? Because that strongly points to you having big financial leaks if you're not able to pay down your debt & save on that kind of income.  Your income side of the equation is important, but the expense side is important as well if you don't know where 2 grand a month is going.
[/quote]

Pre-tax. So I'm gonna lost something like 20% of this.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: mporter012 on March 02, 2017, 11:43:50 AM
This board loves to see:
  • Your budget
  • Your debt payoff timeline

Interested in working that out because we can help more if so. Are you tracking your spending now? You should be able to crush those credit cards in MONTHS instead of a whole year from now.

Okay. Should I just add an attachment? Or type it in the dialogue box?
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: monstermonster on March 02, 2017, 11:47:40 AM
Quote
Yea is this pre-or-post tax $2000? Because that strongly points to you having big financial leaks if you're not able to pay down your debt & save on that kind of income.  Your income side of the equation is important, but the expense side is important as well if you don't know where 2 grand a month is going.

Pre-tax. So I'm gonna lost something like 20% of this.
[/quote]
Okay, I make around $1700 pre-tax a month, making $1250 after taxes. I spend of that on $805 housing & groceries. So theoretically, if you have similarly low expenses, you should be able to put $750 towards your debt each month while also focusing on a side hustle.

That side hustle will help you accelerate your debt payoff and then start working towards FIRE. But you need to deal with the debt & income situation simultaneously before you start working towards FIRE aggressively. What are the interest rates on your SLs?

If you break out a budget for us, we can help more specifically.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: monstermonster on March 02, 2017, 11:49:07 AM
This board loves to see:
  • Your budget
  • Your debt payoff timeline

Interested in working that out because we can help more if so. Are you tracking your spending now? You should be able to crush those credit cards in MONTHS instead of a whole year from now.

Okay. Should I just add an attachment? Or type it in the dialogue box?

Here's the thread: http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/case-studies/how-to-write-a-'case-study'-topic/ (http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/case-studies/how-to-write-a-'case-study'-topic/)
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: mporter012 on March 02, 2017, 12:46:46 PM
Here's the info. Fire away.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: NorthernBlitz on March 02, 2017, 12:57:50 PM
I have a coherent resume, but it leans heavily towards horticulture/botony/farming

I'm not a professional resume writer / coach, but here's my $0.02

If you want your resume to be applicable in other fields you could have "significant accomplishments" at the top. I think that the purpose of these accomplishments is to highlight (1) transferable skills that you have and (2) demonstrate that actions you've taken have delivered value to your employer. so I think it's great if you have dollar amounts in at least some of these points.

You're trying to show a company that you will deliver more value to them than what they're paying you, so I think that you want short active sentences here that hopefully have a dollar value impact.

Things like:
- Supervised X employees that annually produced Y amount of product at a value of $Z
- Implemented <something you did at this job> that <increased revenue by $X / reduced costs by $Y / reduced spoilage by $Z>

You can also highlight the transferable skills that you've developed instead of the tasks that you were doing when you developed those skills.
- When you were in management, did you have to work on communicating effectively / conflict resolution?
- Were you responsible for purchasing decisions? Dollar values are good to add here I think.

I think these bullets will also end up being the stories that you will tell them in the interviews that you have.

Another thing that you said that I think you should highlight is that you worked your way into a management position. This means that another employer recognized you as someone who could handle responsibility.

You can also discuss your willingness to use your skills and develop new ones in a variety of different fields.

It's been mentioned here already, but building a network is very important. It would be great if people were hired only off their resume and their accomplishments. But, knowing people is important.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: begood on March 02, 2017, 01:18:24 PM
mporter012,  have you applied at Wegmans?

Wegmans Career Areas (https://jobs.wegmans.com/career-areas)

They have a culinary area, a huge produce (organic and non), and customer service opportunities galore. It might be a place where you could start and move up the ladder. Even better, you can put your sociology background to work: the behavior of people in groups will be fully on display in an environment like Wegmans, and your "inside" knowledge can give you a leg up.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: mporter012 on March 02, 2017, 01:29:39 PM
This board loves to see:
  • Your budget
  • Your debt payoff timeline

Interested in working that out because we can help more if so. Are you tracking your spending now? You should be able to crush those credit cards in MONTHS instead of a whole year from now.

This is probably easier. Yea, when I sat down and really added everything up, it's quite a bit worse than I made it seem.

Mr. Money Mustache Info
 
Topic: Save me from financial quagmire (and/or hire me!).
Life Situation: Single, no dependents.
Gross income: $24,000
Individual of pre-tax deductions: ? No taxes taken out.
Other ordinary income: +/- $5k/year
Qualified Dividends: 0
Rental income: 0
AGI: $24k-$29k
Taxes: IDK - $3600ish from the 24K income
Current Expenses:
​- ACCC (American Consumer Credit Counselling): $225/month
​- Bank of America CC: $70/month
​- Paypal: $50/month
​- Citibank: $50/month
​- Discover: $100/month
​- Federal: Deferment
​- Debt to Parents: $50/month (needs to increase, clearly)
​- Phone: $45/month
​- Healthcare: $125/month
​- Food: $200/month
​- Rent: $0/month
- Gas: $50/month
- Savings: $25/month
​- Taxes: $300/month @ 15% self-employment tax @24k/year
​- = $1290
Expected ER expenses: ?
Assets: Some FANCY outdoor gear!
​- Car: $500
​- Organs?
Liabilities:
​-ACCC: $3978 (Final payoff, includes all interest).
​- BOA: $4468.94 (4%)
​- Paypal: $394.98 (18%)
​- Citibank: $3315.47 (3.87%)
​- Discover: $9391.94 (%5)
​- Federal: $19,000ish… (?? I think 3%)
​- Debt to parents: $17,000 (0%)
​- $57,546
Specific Questions:
- See first post
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: MsSindy on March 02, 2017, 01:43:06 PM
Are there expenses missing?  For example I don't see anything for car maint, gasoline, or car insur.  Are your utilities also included in your package?  If these expenses are accurate on a month-to-month basis, then you do have some money to work with - and I would pay off PayPal immediately, then work on the ACCC (assuming no penalties for early payoff).

On the income side, you'll need to decide if you're going to either
A) continue what you're doing and commit to a side hustle
B) change careers

Once you make a decision, we can help you brainstorm ideas.

No offense, but I wouldn't spend much time on a business plan until you can prove that you can manage money - you'd be hard pressed to find someone to take a risk on you given the state you're in.... no matter how awesome your business plan is.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: monstermonster on March 02, 2017, 02:22:21 PM
So, this is great because you're taking the first step towards understanding what your debt looks like. It appears you have more than you initially said- you said you had $5,000 CC debt in the first post, but in reality you have $16,900 in credit card debt when you add it all together. Those interests rates, however, are low for a CC - when do those 3% and 5% interest rates run out?

I would agree around the business plan. Business plans are for folks that are finance-able. You are not right now. My employers have a $250,000 annual gross revenue company that's been around for 5 years, and we're still not eligible for financing because of $20,000 of student loan debt from one of the owners. A business plan can be a good tool for wrapping your head around what your plan is, but it's mainly for getting financing. Don't get too caught up in the planning stage when you need to be in the DEBT ATTACK stage.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: mporter012 on March 02, 2017, 02:23:14 PM
Are there expenses missing?  For example I don't see anything for car maint, gasoline, or car insur.  Are your utilities also included in your package?  If these expenses are accurate on a month-to-month basis, then you do have some money to work with - and I would pay off PayPal immediately, then work on the ACCC (assuming no penalties for early payoff).

On the income side, you'll need to decide if you're going to either
A) continue what you're doing and commit to a side hustle
B) change careers

Once you make a decision, we can help you brainstorm ideas.

No offense, but I wouldn't spend much time on a business plan until you can prove that you can manage money - you'd be hard pressed to find someone to take a risk on you given the state you're in.... no matter how awesome your business plan is.

I added $50/month for gas. I'm on an insurance plan with some family members, and they just cover the cost, which is helpful. I also put $25 in savings a month. Is that pretty much useless at this point?
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: mporter012 on March 02, 2017, 02:30:22 PM
So, this is great because you're taking the first step towards understanding what your debt looks like. It appears you have more than you initially said- you said you had $5,000 CC debt in the first post, but in reality you have $16,900 in credit card debt when you add it all together. Those interests rates, however, are low for a CC - when do those 3% and 5% interest rates run out?

I would agree around the business plan. Business plans are for folks that are finance-able. You are not right now. My employers have a $250,000 annual gross revenue company that's been around for 5 years, and we're still not eligible for financing because of $20,000 of student loan debt from one of the owners. A business plan can be a good tool for wrapping your head around what your plan is, but it's mainly for getting financing. Don't get too caught up in the planning stage when you need to be in the DEBT ATTACK stage.

Yea, honestly I haven't looked at it in some time. Most everything is on auto-pay, but I'd forgotten the the Bank of America card still had as much as it does. The paypal is $394, so the total is at $8841.92 - I know this is nuts, but it was double this. I've paid off quite a bit the last 4 years. It's still ruining me though. The Bank of America card was from when I was in college, and back then, for whatever reason, they gave 19 years cards with low interest.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: monstermonster on March 02, 2017, 02:31:26 PM
I added $50/month for gas. I'm on an insurance plan with some family members, and they just cover the cost, which is helpful. I also put $25 in savings a month. Is that pretty much useless at this point?
I'd recommend a small emergency fund of one-month's expenses (which looks to be about $1K). Everything above that should go to attacking your debt. You are in debt emergency mode,  (http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/04/18/news-flash-your-debt-is-an-emergency/)with 90% of your earnings going to repaying debt.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: historienne on March 02, 2017, 03:22:22 PM
Just want to reiterate that if you are *actually* interested in a Ph.D. in Botany, and have the qualifications to get into a good program, you should expect that 1)tuition would be free, and 2) you would get a stipend.  Stipends vary wildly, but at my school (a private research institution), it would be about equivalent to your current salary+benefits (ie, salary plus the value of your free rent).

I'm not a scientist, and I do not know what the job prospects are for people with Ph.D.s in Botany.  Getting the degree would be a big commitment of time and energy, which might be better spent elsewhere from a purely financial perspective.  I mostly wanted to emphasize that under no circumstances should you pay money for a Ph.D. program in the sciences.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: pbkmaine on March 02, 2017, 03:25:25 PM
There's also the Frugalwoods way of paying for grad school:
http://www.frugalwoods.com/2015/08/26/that-time-i-went-to-grad-school-for-free/
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: mporter012 on March 02, 2017, 06:05:09 PM
Just want to reiterate that if you are *actually* interested in a Ph.D. in Botany, and have the qualifications to get into a good program, you should expect that 1)tuition would be free, and 2) you would get a stipend.  Stipends vary wildly, but at my school (a private research institution), it would be about equivalent to your current salary+benefits (ie, salary plus the value of your free rent).

I'm not a scientist, and I do not know what the job prospects are for people with Ph.D.s in Botany.  Getting the degree would be a big commitment of time and energy, which might be better spent elsewhere from a purely financial perspective.  I mostly wanted to emphasize that under no circumstances should you pay money for a Ph.D. program in the sciences.

Got it.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: mporter012 on March 02, 2017, 06:16:34 PM
Side note. Despite the mistakes I've made, I still contend that the snowball effect really started and was basically out of control long before I added to it. Understand that a good portion of the money I owe my parents was related to university expenses. And then, I had so much debt when I got out of school, with an idiotic, useless degree, that I somehow thought, "what's another couple thousand in credit cards...I'll get a great job soon!" Never happened. Graduated in 2008, the economy crashed in early 2009, and it's been pretty much shitty since then. Trust me, I've spent thousands of hours looking for work, updating my resume, networking, etc. The economy has gotten tougher all around. I have lots of friends in the same boat - some worse. Jesus, my friends who went the grad school route may never pay off their debt!

I just find it a bit irritating and smug for MMM to make statements like, "Making money is easy." Even if you have a wave of responsibility and minimalism that sweeps through the country, (here comes some sociology...!) technology is basically replacing the middle class. See Jaron Lanier and others on this. I basically believe we are headed for some apocalyptic scenario with work in the next 10-20 years. Sam Harris and others are contending we need a universal income VERY soon, it's getting so bad. Maybe they are wrong, but I think they likely aren't.

This is not an excuse for my debt/situation. It's more a rebuttal to the idea that, "making money is easy."
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: ShoulderThingThatGoesUp on March 02, 2017, 07:34:52 PM
But you are making fine money for a single person with no housing expenses. Making money is going fine for you - you're even in your chosen field! You just have built up a lot of debt.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: Bracken_Joy on March 02, 2017, 07:51:44 PM
But you are making fine money for a single person with no housing expenses. Making money is going fine for you - you're even in your chosen field! You just have built up a lot of debt.

+1. This is looking less like an earnings issue (no housing! *swoon*) and more like a situation of paying down past 'missteps'- which takes time! The thing is, your earnings aren't funding your now and your future, they are funding your past (and the compound interest fallout from that past!). Luckily, your rates all seem pretty reasonable, and you should be able to SLAY that debt in no time.

So what's your debt repayment plan? =) Much more important right now than a business plan I think!
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: Villanelle on March 02, 2017, 10:04:07 PM
If you are counting your debt repayment in your expenses, when you are done with that, your overall needs will be much lower.  So overall, the long term prospects are less dire than you seem to think.  You are just wading through the really tough part now, but once that is done, assuming you don't inflate your lifestyle, all that debt money can go to savings.

You don't list the interest on those debts, but you might look in to Lending Tree or other sources of loans, and if you can get a lower rate, use that to consolidate.  Keep payment amounts the same, but be rid of them faster.  Similarly, if you can get a 0% balance transfer credit card, that might help, though of course you need to make sure you comply with the terms and get it paid off before rates go up (unless they are still lower than some of your debts). 

You jokingly mention "organs" as an asset, but you can sell blood (Plasma) to make some extra money.  Why not do it, assuming you qualify?  Likewise, your hands are an asset.  Can you offer to tend gardens or mow lawns?  Clean pools (not sure what kind of neighborhood you live in?  Babysit?  Tutor?  (And tutor.com is often hiring, so you wouldn't even have to hustle up your own business.) Write that e-book.  Create a walking food tour in your area (especially if you have a tourist economy), focused on farm-to-table and organic places that are off the beaten path for tourists.  Fresh oysters from X little market, a pass through a local farmer's market for a few snack samples, then on to an appetizer at hole in the while, a local specialty at another place, an entree at a great local restaurant, and wine and dessert at a final stop, pointing out historical points of interest as you walk from place to place, and discuss the local sustainable agriculture movement. .  Work out deals with each place, and then add 25% to the cost of the food.  Then go to Trip Advisor and see if anything even kind of similar exists and compare prices to make sure you are semi-competitive.  Give the tour for free to friends (minus the cost of food) in exchange for reviews on Trip Advisor.    Maybe you only get 2 people a month, and you only make $50.  That's $50 you didn't have before, and the bonus is that you get to share your passion (just don't go too over the top or it might be off putting).


"Technology is replacing the middle class" sounds pretty complainy-pants to me. Yes, it's a generalization, and it's likely intentionally provocative, as MMM tends to be.  I think it's all a matter of scale.  I but just about nay of us could brin gin an extra $20 a month or even $200.  An extra $2000?  More difficult.  Making some money is easy; making lots is more difficult.  But that doesn't quite have the same ring to it, does it.  Did you read the two MMM blog posts liked about, which will give you 100 jobs that make solid money without college degrees?  They are there, but you have to look for them, and you have to be willing to do a job that is outside your hobby/passion/bliss wheelhouse.  Your financial needs are relatively low, so yes, making some extra money should be fairly easy.  I know it sucks to hear that because it means you actually have to go out and do it, rather than just dismissing it is nearly impossible.  Maybe the robot overlords are coming for our jobs, but they haven't taken all or even most of them yet.  Isn't that all the more reason to hustle now, while you are young and healthy and there are still opportunities?
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: monstermonster on March 02, 2017, 10:45:04 PM
I also find it smug when MMM makes statements like "making money is easy", so I'm with you there. But I don't think it's as dire as you're making it out to be, especially for a college educated person in this country with no dependents.

But I think you need to understand you have a debt problem far more than you have an impossible-earnings problem. And there's solutions to that.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: baw88 on March 03, 2017, 06:06:30 AM
Here's the info. Fire away.
A couple questions for clarity. First, where is the remaining $785 a month going? You list $1,215 in expenses per month and have $2,000 in earnings. Is it going toward debt pay off or are you only paying the minimums at this time? Second, what is the interest rate of your federal loan and when does your deferment period end? Specifics are important in coming up with a pay off plan. It shouldn't take too long to look this up online at your loan service's website.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: alewpanda on March 03, 2017, 08:23:17 AM
Side note. Despite the mistakes I've made, I still contend that the snowball effect really started and was basically out of control long before I added to it. Understand that a good portion of the money I owe my parents was related to university expenses. And then, I had so much debt when I got out of school, with an idiotic, useless degree, that I somehow thought, "what's another couple thousand in credit cards...I'll get a great job soon!" Never happened. Graduated in 2008, the economy crashed in early 2009, and it's been pretty much shitty since then. Trust me, I've spent thousands of hours looking for work, updating my resume, networking, etc. The economy has gotten tougher all around. I have lots of friends in the same boat - some worse. Jesus, my friends who went the grad school route may never pay off their debt!

I just find it a bit irritating and smug for MMM to make statements like, "Making money is easy." Even if you have a wave of responsibility and minimalism that sweeps through the country, (here comes some sociology...!) technology is basically replacing the middle class. See Jaron Lanier and others on this. I basically believe we are headed for some apocalyptic scenario with work in the next 10-20 years. Sam Harris and others are contending we need a universal income VERY soon, it's getting so bad. Maybe they are wrong, but I think they likely aren't.

This is not an excuse for my debt/situation. It's more a rebuttal to the idea that, "making money is easy."


Even in spendy pants mode, if my husband and I didn't pay housing costs, the TWO of us could live a spendy life on your income.....

You do make money, doing relatively easy and enjoyable work, without even using a degree....its just that over half of it has someone else's name on it (cc companies, federal loans, parent loans)

And I know what its like to not have taxes taken out...at your income level, you don't pay beans in taxes comparatively.  Your complaints are because you are forced to pay for the past...and that will take time.  You have no reason to complain about "not easy to make money".  You are making easy money RIGHT NOW!

Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: SKL-HOU on March 03, 2017, 10:53:26 AM
....
I just find it a bit irritating and smug for MMM to make statements like, "Making money is easy." Even if you have a wave of responsibility and minimalism that sweeps through the country, (here comes some sociology...!) technology is basically replacing the middle class. See Jaron Lanier and others on this. I basically believe we are headed for some apocalyptic scenario with work in the next 10-20 years. Sam Harris and others are contending we need a universal income VERY soon, it's getting so bad. Maybe they are wrong, but I think they likely aren't.

This is not an excuse for my debt/situation. It's more a rebuttal to the idea that, "making money is easy."

You find it irritating but I don't see how you have been actually trying to make money... you don't want responsibility, you don't want a boring job... you want a fun job and the fun you like doesn't come with enough money.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: prognastat on March 03, 2017, 10:56:11 AM
....
I just find it a bit irritating and smug for MMM to make statements like, "Making money is easy." Even if you have a wave of responsibility and minimalism that sweeps through the country, (here comes some sociology...!) technology is basically replacing the middle class. See Jaron Lanier and others on this. I basically believe we are headed for some apocalyptic scenario with work in the next 10-20 years. Sam Harris and others are contending we need a universal income VERY soon, it's getting so bad. Maybe they are wrong, but I think they likely aren't.

This is not an excuse for my debt/situation. It's more a rebuttal to the idea that, "making money is easy."

You find it irritating but I don't see how you have been actually trying to make money... you don't want responsibility, you don't want a boring job... you want a fun job and the fun you like doesn't come with enough money.

Agreed, making money is easy. In most cases it just isn't fun, low stress or enjoyable.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: I'm a red panda on March 03, 2017, 12:39:30 PM
There's also the Frugalwoods way of paying for grad school:
http://www.frugalwoods.com/2015/08/26/that-time-i-went-to-grad-school-for-free/

A lot of universities require an employment period of 1 year to 5 years to be eligible for this.  Though, since OP needs a job that pays more, getting one would be a good step. When I worked at a university (though I didn't meet the 5 year wait) I was baffled when a coworker quit to do her PhD, in the department I worked for.  She was making $85k and moved to a $20k stipend instead. Her logic was she'd be done quicker, but it would likely only take her 2 extra years while also working.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: cl_noll on March 03, 2017, 01:19:20 PM

.............the best I could hope for would be to get a job that pays $40,000 in these fields, unless I'd go back and get a PhD in Botany, and teach, then I'd be looking at more debt, and still, the money isn't great.

I'm not necessarily hell bent on retirement, but I can clearly see the path ahead: With $40,000 annual salary jobs, even living like GHANDI, I won't be even remotely close to FIRE until I'm 70. Case in point: If I live off of $20,000 a year. I need $500,000 to get to that 25x annual spending #. That will take me 25 years. That assumes nothing f-ed up happens, like I get sick and have absurd medical bills, have kids, etc.

What am I missing?
20K living expenses for a broke young single guy is pretty high. Aim for 12-15k per yr, tops.
I'm about your age, averaged 31-38K/yr pre tax these last three yrs and still saved 10-12K per year post-tax through frugal choices.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: Jon Bon on March 03, 2017, 02:11:27 PM

.............the best I could hope for would be to get a job that pays $40,000 in these fields, unless I'd go back and get a PhD in Botany, and teach, then I'd be looking at more debt, and still, the money isn't great.

I'm not necessarily hell bent on retirement, but I can clearly see the path ahead: With $40,000 annual salary jobs, even living like GHANDI, I won't be even remotely close to FIRE until I'm 70. Case in point: If I live off of $20,000 a year. I need $500,000 to get to that 25x annual spending #. That will take me 25 years. That assumes nothing f-ed up happens, like I get sick and have absurd medical bills, have kids, etc.

What am I missing?
20K living expenses for a broke young single guy is pretty high. Aim for 12-15k per yr, tops.
I'm about your age, averaged 31-38K/yr pre tax these last three yrs and still saved 10-12K per year post-tax through frugal choices.

Baby steps guys...... Also this is not early retirement extreme. This is MMM, living off 20k a year as a single guy is pretty damn good. Could he do better? Sure, but he is just getting started. I am not picking on you specifically noll, but I feel so often these new guys trying to get their finances together get discouraged by you MMM badasses!

So back to the OP. Cutting expenses is going to be a part of it but I think most of us would agree focusing on leveraging your strengths into a career that pays with benefits like 401k matching, and health insurance is a good start.  Finding a job you love, and pays well is pretty much a unicorn. The best bet as most here will attest to is finding a job you can tolerate and kick its ass for 10 years until FIRE or at least FU money. Often you start off doing something pretty terrible but you realize in said organization you can in fact work your way towards another position that not only pays better, is something you almost enjoy doing. Every job I had I liked much more than the one before!

So porter what are you going to do? What new job are you looking for this week? What side hustle are you researching right now?

*FU money: having enough money to tell your job to fuck off at any point. You have enough money to live for a year or two and it not really be much of an issue financially.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: begood on March 03, 2017, 02:17:43 PM
I'm telling you, apply at Wegmans. Health insurance even for part-time employees and a variety of cooking/produce related career paths.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: prognastat on March 03, 2017, 02:17:53 PM

.............the best I could hope for would be to get a job that pays $40,000 in these fields, unless I'd go back and get a PhD in Botany, and teach, then I'd be looking at more debt, and still, the money isn't great.

I'm not necessarily hell bent on retirement, but I can clearly see the path ahead: With $40,000 annual salary jobs, even living like GHANDI, I won't be even remotely close to FIRE until I'm 70. Case in point: If I live off of $20,000 a year. I need $500,000 to get to that 25x annual spending #. That will take me 25 years. That assumes nothing f-ed up happens, like I get sick and have absurd medical bills, have kids, etc.

What am I missing?
20K living expenses for a broke young single guy is pretty high. Aim for 12-15k per yr, tops.
I'm about your age, averaged 31-38K/yr pre tax these last three yrs and still saved 10-12K per year post-tax through frugal choices.

Baby steps guys...... Also this is not early retirement extreme. This is MMM, living off 20k a year as a single guy is pretty damn good. Could he do better? Sure, but he is just getting started. I am not picking on you specifically noll, but I feel so often these new guys trying to get their finances together get discouraged by you MMM badasses!

So back to the OP. Cutting expenses is going to be a part of it but I think most of us would agree focusing on leveraging your strengths into a career that pays with benefits like 401k matching, and health insurance is a good start.  Finding a job you love, and pays well is pretty much a unicorn. The best bet as most here will attest to is finding a job you can tolerate and kick its ass for 10 years until FIRE or at least FU money. Often you start off doing something pretty terrible but you realize in said organization you can in fact work your way towards another position that not only pays better, is something you almost enjoy doing. Every job I had I liked much more than the one before!

So porter what are you going to do? What new job are you looking for this week? What side hustle are you researching right now?

*FU money: having enough money to tell your job to fuck off at any point. You have enough money to live for a year or two and it not really be much of an issue financially.

If you aren't living in a HCOL area 20k a year for a single is more than enough to live off and not ERE style at all.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: Tyson on March 03, 2017, 02:24:19 PM
The whole idea of 'doing what you love' is pretty misguided, IME.  Do what you can tolerate reasonably well and which brings you the most money. 
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: AlanStache on March 03, 2017, 03:10:23 PM
Are you in a position to work off some of the debt to your parents?  Are you close enough where you could clean there home twice a month for 10$/hr credit on your debt?  Probably not the most profitable use of time but if it is using time that otherwise would not have a financial gain and any family benefits it could be worth it. 
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: SKL-HOU on March 03, 2017, 03:27:33 PM
I'm telling you, apply at Wegmans. Health insurance even for part-time employees and a variety of cooking/produce related career paths.

It is not exciting enough for him i bet.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: MayDay on March 04, 2017, 07:12:32 AM
You do make a good salary, especially with free housing!

Digging out of debt is just painful.  Hopefully painful enough that you never get into debt again.

I would just say:  if you find it painful enough, you will find ways to either cut expenses, or get a side job to throw more cash at it.  If you like your job, stay there.  If you want to make more, i may entail working a job that is just a job, that brings money but not happiness.  That is ok- but own the trade-off.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: MayDay on March 04, 2017, 07:13:04 AM
My son wants to try out the moving M

Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: WhiteTrashCash on March 04, 2017, 07:18:40 AM
One of the harshest lessons I have learned is that life isn't really about being happy and finding fulfillment. It's about responsibilities and duties and doing what needs to be done to be successful. If you can find a little happiness here and there, that's all well and good -- self-care is important -- but it can't be your ultimate goal, because you will always end up feeling miserable for failing to achieve it.

What is happiness anyway? I think Denis Leary said that it's eating a cookie or having sex. It's a momentary pop of brain chemicals that fades as quickly as it arrives.

While I was growing up, I received some bad advice from teachers and that advice was "Figure out what you enjoy doing and then find a way to do that for a living for the rest of your life." Much better advice is "Figure out what you enjoy doing and then find a way to do that on nights and weekends for the rest of your life while you work a less interesting yet financially advantageous day job."
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: Cranky on March 04, 2017, 09:48:10 AM
I am going to come down in favor of doing what you love, with the understanding that you have to live on what you can earn. Some people can be very happy doing that, and some people can't. (And some people are just not very happy, and money won't change that.)

I've got a long history of what we jokingly refer to as "socially responsible minimum wage jobs", which I have loved. We've always been frugal. We've never run up credit card debt. We give generously.

My dh also pursued work that he loved, and so he was in school fulltime until he was 30yo. He didn't get paid very well for most of his career, though he's doing okay at what is really the last few years of it.

But we understood the tradeoff that we were making. We've told our kids - be poets if that's what you love, but be prepared to live on a poet's income. ;-)

Don't borrow money. Use birth control. Don't develop expensive habits. Have an emergency fund. Brush and floss regularly, and get a flu shot.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: Bracken_Joy on March 04, 2017, 10:00:36 AM
Don't borrow money. Use birth control. Don't develop expensive habits. Have an emergency fund. Brush and floss regularly, and get a flu shot.

Love this advice. +1. Adding to my signature, haha.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: Fire2025 on March 04, 2017, 01:55:14 PM
OP I think you are doing better than you think, you're just in the middle of the tunnel.  You're too old, and have learned to much, to say "oh well, I'm so far in debt what's another $$$"  and that's great!!!!!  But you're also to far from the end of the tunnel, were the debt is paid off, to really see the "light".  But you have enough income, woohoo free housing, to really kill the CC debt and then you can pivot to the next thing.  Saving for FIRE.

And you're young, that's really huge.  You have a lot of time to recover from the past "missteps" and pivot to meet the new you. As many have said, this isn't an income problem, this is a get out of debt situation, and then you'll be ready to really kick ass.

From one lower income, for this site, artist to another, you've got this.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: Fire2025 on March 04, 2017, 01:57:39 PM
oops, mporter, I also want to share a podcast I think you will really like.

http://www.madfientist.com/popup-business-school-interview/

This guy is all about making money, doing what you love, WITHOUT going into debt.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: PDM on March 04, 2017, 03:46:49 PM
The whole idea of 'doing what you love' is pretty misguided, IME.  Do what you can tolerate reasonably well and which brings you the most money.

I agree with this sentiment. The OP has pursued his interests (gardening and art) and it hasnt lead to high paying jobs. The idea that my generation has (Gen Y - I was born 1983) had instilled in us from a young age that we can be anything and have pursue our passions and do what you love has caused a lot of unhappiness.

I enjoy growing vegetables (not so much art) but I do it as a hobby. My actual job affords me the money and security to have hobbies and other interests. It pays well. I don't love it but I enjoy the people I work with and it has its interesting aspects. Is it my passion? Nope.

There is a thing I call the Scuba Diving Instructor Effect. I do love scuba diving and have done a fair bit of training but never with the intention of making a living out of it. If someone is willing to do your "job" for free or pay to do it, then the pay you can expect is likely to be very low. I've met plenty of instructors who at the end of a diving season in paradise barely have enough money for a ticket home.

This makes it challenging to FIRE while pursuing a job you love.

Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: Tyson on March 04, 2017, 04:17:32 PM
I have also found that one good way to ruin an activity that you love is to try to monetize it or make a living at it. 

Better is to maximize the $$ you make at work, and in parallel maximize your enjoyment of your family and your hobbies in non-work hours.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: former player on March 05, 2017, 07:50:14 AM
I've just been reading this thread -
http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/case-studies/what-to-be-when-i-grow-up-sorry-for-the-wall-of-text!-(hope-this-is-ok-here!)/msg1458381/?topicseen#new

and it occurred to me that anyone who knows agriculture would be a shoe-in for BlueHouse's suggestion at reply 11 regarding Project Scheduling -


"Project scheduling is all about figuring out how long a project will take by listing all the tasks that make up the project, estimating the durations (and sometimes resources), sequencing all of the tasks, and coming up with a finish date.   You don't really have to know anything about the subject matter because other people usually tell you the tasks and estimate the durations.  You work a tool (primavera P6, Microsoft Project, etc) and manage the changes as time goes by.  If you do have a basic understanding of the subject matter, then that's even better because you can help troubleshoot problems, but if not, no matter. 
Industries that need schedulers:  Construction, Oil & Gas, Aircraft, spacecraft, vehicles, services, etc. 

How to get there easily:  download a free copy of MS Project and go online and start taking free tutorials.  Join PMI (sorry, there's a plug, but this one's worth it for the training).  There is free online training and free webinars all over the place for MS Project scheduling -- it's everywhere.  Very easy entry to the profession, but not everyone gets good at it.  If you want to get good, you can but you have to work harder than other people.   
Your first job in scheduling can get you 50-75K in Northern VA, Md, or WDC because contracting companies are desperate for billable bodies and they don't care how bad you are at it.  Within a year of working with others and continuing to read other materials outside of work, you can become very good and you can easily get another job for over 100K, but you have to be willing to job-hop after that first job.

There is so much information online about it, if you want it, you can do it with no problem."
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: Beriberi on March 05, 2017, 08:20:02 AM
If I needed a side hustle, I would do classes/camps/enrichment for kids.  In my neighborhood, the going rate is $10-20/hr/kid for things like "carpentry camp" or "chess class".  You have to have some ability with kids (and convince the parents that you have that), but it would be a great way to leverage your skills (art, farming) into money.   However, there would be some hustle to getting established, and you have to have a decent site.  But, figure out how to get 8 6-year olds spending 4 hours/day for a week or two in  the summer looking at worms and weeding strawberries, that's $1500/week. Even if it is just "enrichment" on Saturdays, that can be an extra $1k/month.

Also, in my area, there is a well-off homeschool population that is looking for weekday activities for children.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: Cranky on March 05, 2017, 11:07:14 AM
And I'd look around for something at whatever your school system uses as outdoor ed camp. The one we go to is big on local food and has a greenhouse. Similarly, your local park system or nature center might be interested in offering classes.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: Asmo on March 05, 2017, 12:06:45 PM
Move to Mass. Grow newly legal weed > profit!
Get someone from your restaurant connections to help you produce tasty edibles > more profit!
Send me a tray of brownies regularly :)
(Only half way kidding about this)
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: joonifloofeefloo on March 05, 2017, 12:27:49 PM
Speaking from (very similar) experience, I would take a year off to do extremes to make money. Personally, I would do something like teaching English in a foreign country, or whatever the lucrative equivalent of that today is.

For one year, set passions aside, do something you can at least barely tolerate, stash the cash, reorganize, and return to your passions.

That's what worked for me. Like, most people work at big jobs year after year, and might "take a year off" for passion. I did it the other way around, doing passion passion passion then taking some time off that to get money and financial organization :)
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: begood on March 05, 2017, 12:52:01 PM
I looked up a math teacher position in Riyadh: two year contract, $48K/year + bonus, transportation to and from workplace and health insurance.

Do something like that for a couple of years, see a different part of the world, pay off some debts, and see where you are after that.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: Josiecat on March 05, 2017, 04:53:49 PM
Put an ad on Craigslist for helping people establish a garden, or garden maintenance.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: nara on March 05, 2017, 05:24:26 PM
My husband and I taught English in Korea for a year after college. It's one of the best things we ever did. And a common alternative for recent grads who may have graduated with degrees in which they can't find jobs.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: Laura33 on March 06, 2017, 08:29:09 AM
....
I just find it a bit irritating and smug for MMM to make statements like, "Making money is easy." Even if you have a wave of responsibility and minimalism that sweeps through the country, (here comes some sociology...!) technology is basically replacing the middle class. See Jaron Lanier and others on this. I basically believe we are headed for some apocalyptic scenario with work in the next 10-20 years. Sam Harris and others are contending we need a universal income VERY soon, it's getting so bad. Maybe they are wrong, but I think they likely aren't.

This is not an excuse for my debt/situation. It's more a rebuttal to the idea that, "making money is easy."

You find it irritating but I don't see how you have been actually trying to make money... you don't want responsibility, you don't want a boring job... you want a fun job and the fun you like doesn't come with enough money.

Agreed, making money is easy. In most cases it just isn't fun, low stress or enjoyable.

This.  Making money is *plenty* easy.  The last decade has been the biggest energy and technology boom in probably the history of this country.  Right now, today, you could move to one of many oil fields and pick up unskilled labor jobs that would make you 2-5x your current salary.  I am not saying that you need to follow this path, btw.  But realize that it is in your power, now, today, to make more money if you choose to do so.  And that if you do not make more money, it is because you found the tradeoffs not to be worth it.

Your disconnect here is that if you want to make money, you have to develop skills that people with money will be willing to pay you for.  You developed skills that you value, and that the people around you value, but not the skills that people who have the money value.  The best way to make money is to figure out how you can help someone who already has a lot of money make more of it than he could without you.  And that usually means business skills of some sort.  Unfortunately, that's not a quick path to riches, either; since you didn't develop those skills in college (classes/internships), you may need to take some low-level business-ey jobs for a few years to develop them now.   

FWIW, I am actually sympathetic here.  I was raised in a very similar value system to yours.  But there is no inalienable right to "do what you love" and get rich at the same time -- for most people, one or the other has to give to some degree. 

And even for those who do manage to do both, it takes a long, long time, and a lot of hard work learning stuff you don't know and that doesn't come intuitively.  One example:  My DH is a total geek (Ph.D in EE).  For the first decade or so, he followed his love of techie geekdom through a series of jobs; all of them were unstable and shut down.  So 12-13 years ago, after yet another layoff, we moved for my job (more stable), which limited his opportunities to MegaCorp X, the big stodgy company he had zero interest in.  But he took one for the team and sent a resume and landed an interview with Potential Boss A, who liked him and offered him a spot in R&D -- ok, cool, not bad.  But then during the interviews, he met Potential Boss B by accident, and B immediately tried to lure him away to the business side selling that advanced tech to get new contracts.  He chose Boss B -- after several years of chasing the dream, the apparent security of "follow the money" sounded safer. 

So this is a recipe for disaster, right?  Ph.D giving up his techie dream to become a sales douche?  Except two years later, he was *running* the R&D fab and was A's boss; today, his income is probably triple what it would have been had he taken that first job.  And the big shocker is that he's happy.  Don't get me wrong, there were times that were very hard, because he had to learn a bunch of new skills ("How to Speak MBA"; "Powerpoint for Sales Douches"; "Life as a TED Talk") and work for people who were way stupider than him ("People Skills 307:  How to Hide Your Antipathy for Pointy-Haired Bosses").  But now he speaks both business and tech.  This makes him very valuable: in short, he can he can keep the techies from blowing smoke to management, and keep management from making dumb-ass decisions because they don't understand their own product; and that visibility into both sides of the equation also helps him spot and pursue good business opportunities.  And he is happier than he has ever been in his career, because that combination of skills means that people actually listen to him (not all the time, but lots more than ever before).

Point is that something like that could be in the cards for you, too.  Maybe over time, with some business experience, you can find a way to bring your interests together -- e.g., everyone needs salesmen, so if you develop your sales skills, maybe you could parlay that into a middleman/broker role between the farms and the restaurants, or find a B2B sales position selling useful things to the sustainable farmers, etc.  But you need to pay your dues learning those other skills first.  Luckily, you still have plenty of time -- FWIW, my DH was 37 when he made that critical choice to even start down the business side.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: MommyCake on March 06, 2017, 08:49:16 AM
Would you be interested in being a produce inspector for the USDA?

There is a hiring freeze, but when it's over there should be ads on usajobs.gov for "agricultural commodity grader" in NJ and PA. 
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: Samuel on March 06, 2017, 08:57:14 AM
And then, I had so much debt when I got out of school, with an idiotic, useless degree

Sociology is about studying the behavior of people in groups and quantifying things that are difficult to quantify through statistics. It's also an indicator of a curious mind willing to dig deep to understand the real story behind the data.

I turned my sociology degree into a very comfortable business analyst career. Yes, getting the initial foot in the door wasn't easy but it just takes one break.

Maintaining optimism starts with the language you use. It's not a useless degree.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: ElleFiji on March 06, 2017, 06:01:01 PM
Tricks to spinning fun degrees.

"No, my philosophy degree didn't lead me directly into the career I'm in. But it taught me how to think through problems and ideas from a variety of viewpoints, and means that I am able to be a better, more creative healthcare provider. "

"You know, it's funny you say that about humanities degrees. One of the coolest ways I see some of my former classmates using their degrees is in how they shape their parenting. They are raising very intelligent, well rounded children, with open minds. Other classmates went on to law school, healthcare, union management, sales careers, and of course we managed a few professors in the group"
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: bugbaby on March 07, 2017, 03:09:52 AM
I'm gonna jump onto the bandwagon, OP. Unless you're in the top 1-10% best at doing what you love, just go with doing what pays most, at least to start off.

Eventually you either discover a niche you like in your field and move up, branch or switch to a better paying one, or hack it till you retire (hopefully early and enjoyably).

Sent from my KIW-L24 using Tapatalk

Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: shelivesthedream on March 07, 2017, 08:15:37 AM
Hey, OP! I'm a chronically underearning artist type, so I feel your pain. But great news! You've come to the right place. MMM preaches financial freedom through badassity, and that's just what you need, but bear in mind that the freedom isn't the freedom to do everything you want - it's the freedom to choose anything you want provided you're willing to make the required sacrifices. But it means you have control over your life. The options aren't infinite, but the choice is yours.

I concur somewhat with what other people have said: making money IS easy...if you're an average or above-average adult who doesn't mind working for The Man. The only alternative is to have a whole lot of hustle and take a whole lot of risks. But MMM shows us you don't need to earn big your whole life to have a good life. The best things in life ARE free, or at least cheap.

Know that you will get facepunches. Know that they are given only because we care. And that you can choose which facepunches to accept and which to ignore.

Now, let's look at some of those options. You can choose any of these. They're all fine. I'm sure there are others. You can also change your mind later. But you have to make peace with whichever option you choose and not complain.

1. Sell your soul and work for The Man to front load your working life, then FIRE.
As others have mentioned, your biggest problem is not your income. It's your debt. Not gonna lie, you're in a pretty big hole. But you can pay it off! The fastest way to this will be to chase the money for a while, pay off your debt, build a stash and then FIRE completely. Go for overtime, chase promotions, be the best little wage slave you can be - but know in your heart that sweet sweet freedom is at the end of it. A less-intensive option is to work full-time for The Man just until you pay off your debt. Should take maybe two years? Then at least that burden is off your shoulders and you can reconsider with a clean slate. Or work to pay off your debt and build a semi-stache so you've got a financial cushion of $100k or so, then let that compound while you work to earn enough for living expenses. That's maybe six years of working for The Man.

2. Part time work and part time hobby.
Do what you love and there's a one in a million chance the money will follow. But there's no reason you can't work for money and for love at the same time. I had a friend who was an artist during the day and a high-end cocktail waiter at night. He regularly got $100 tips. Or you could alternate. I have some fiercely efficient admin skills, so I work as a temp when I feel I need extra cash. Full time with the firehose of cash pouring in until either I feel rich or I get a better offer - then I'm out the door. Gets your debt paid off but you still keep a portion of your soul.

3. Hustle in your chosen field.
You're into art, cooking and sustainable agriculture, right? Here are some ideas:
Children's face painting
Start a (life) drawing class
Private art tuition
Commissions for murals
House painting
Bake custom birthday cakes
Start a micro-restaurant in your home one night a month
Bake cakes or bread for local cafes on a regular schedule
Garden maintenance for old folks
Design and install vegetable gardens for people
Grow heirloom chillies or tomatoes
Make artisan jam
Keep bees and sell the honey
Local food tours

Bear in mind, though, that these are BUSINESS ideas. You HAVE to crunch the numbers honestly and see if they'll make you money. This will be good practice and good evidence for if you do want to start a real farm one day.

4. Change nothing.
This is an option. You don't have to do anything you don't want to. You can totally keep working at small jobs and chipping away at your debt if you want to. I won't judge you - honestly! But if you do this, it needs to be an active CHOICE. You need to embrace it and be happy about it.

Hope this is helpful.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: jade on March 07, 2017, 09:34:57 AM
You do make a good salary, especially with free housing!

Digging out of debt is just painful.  Hopefully painful enough that you never get into debt again.

I would just say:  if you find it painful enough, you will find ways to either cut expenses, or get a side job to throw more cash at it.  If you like your job, stay there.  If you want to make more, i may entail working a job that is just a job, that brings money but not happiness.  That is ok- but own the trade-off.

+1

Two of us now live on £1000 a month and enjoy life and save the rest with approx 40-50% savings rate. I used to earn £18,000 a year when single and living with my folks and spent it all. I think it comes down to mindset, from my experience and also valuing what you earn now. I know it's a bit different when you are single but your income is good now and free housing is even better! ;-)

I think it's all relative... I love coming here to MMM but I also think sometimes reading about some others earning a lot of money and being able to retire in 5 years because they're earning 6 figures, although obviously well deserved can be disheartening if you are pulling in smaller salaries and less earning power. So I know I sometimes have to switch off from comparisons and and recognize the progress I am making where I am at.... I think it might be similar for you? Keep at it! I think once you get your debt sorted, you will get a real buzz and some momentum even without moving jobs but if you decide to, hopefully all the better and there is lots of great advice here about ways to move forward so all the best.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: Salim on March 07, 2017, 03:11:44 PM
Artists and graphic designers can make an excellent living. I am a graphic designer,  illustrator, and fine artist and I do very well. Let me know if you want more information.

If you want to make a good living as a fine artist, check out the Reddot Blog. It's written by a gallery owner who knows what it takes for artists to be able to support themselves. He has written books on it and gives courses, too.

The posters who said you can't make a living at art are incorrect. It does take commitment and hard work, like every other good job. Good luck with whatever you decide to do.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: Jaguar Paw on March 07, 2017, 03:28:17 PM
To the op, I have officially solved your problem: become a police officer with an agency that pays for education and vests you in a pension after 8 or 10 years. Get paid good money, and they'll pay for you to get another degree and then after you get said degree you can apply for cool jobs you think you may like. Boom. Problem solved.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: FIstateofmind on March 07, 2017, 03:58:58 PM
One of the harshest lessons I have learned is that life isn't really about being happy and finding fulfillment. It's about responsibilities and duties and doing what needs to be done to be successful. If you can find a little happiness here and there, that's all well and good -- self-care is important -- but it can't be your ultimate goal, because you will always end up feeling miserable for failing to achieve it.

What is happiness anyway? I think Denis Leary said that it's eating a cookie or having sex. It's a momentary pop of brain chemicals that fades as quickly as it arrives.

While I was growing up, I received some bad advice from teachers and that advice was "Figure out what you enjoy doing and then find a way to do that for a living for the rest of your life." Much better advice is "Figure out what you enjoy doing and then find a way to do that on nights and weekends for the rest of your life while you work a less interesting yet financially advantageous day job."

I love this quote - though i think it is possible to find work in which you earn well and enjoy it the work! It just not may be exactly what you hoped for/imagined!
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: Hargrove on March 07, 2017, 04:17:24 PM
The posters who said you can't make a living at art are incorrect. It does take commitment and hard work, like every other good job. Good luck with whatever you decide to do.

That's unrealistic at best and dishonest at worst. Yes, there exist artists who make a living at art. It takes a mountain of hard work to even get the ball rolling, then a lucky break or an exceedingly well developed network of followers, overwhelmingly unlike many other potentially well-paying jobs. The people who make more than "get by" money at art are exceedingly rare proportionate to the population of people who want to be artists for a living, overwhelmingly unlike most other potentially well-paying jobs. The artists who try and fail for a number of different reasons (INCLUDING luck) probably outnumber the failed ranks in every other profession if we don't count teenagers in retail.

In short, to put it in reverse, our society is not overwhelmingly concerned with paying for art, and the pressure on an artist to produce is enormous, lest the 1000 artists dreaming of a paying job behind him/her take the job instead.

I know an artist/writer who published two books, takes commissions, develops networks for herself and friends in her network to mutliply those networks (thousands of followers), does the Patreon/artblog/tumblr/promoforum/webcomic/etc thing, and makes enough to get by only because she's still living with her parents. I have never met the MBA in that situation. I have never even heard of the MBA in that situation.

And that SUCKS. But let's not pretend it isn't real.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: prognastat on March 07, 2017, 04:26:41 PM
The posters who said you can't make a living at art are incorrect. It does take commitment and hard work, like every other good job. Good luck with whatever you decide to do.

That's unrealistic at best and dishonest at worst. Yes, there exist artists who make a living at art. It takes a mountain of hard work to even get the ball rolling, then a lucky break or an exceedingly well developed network of followers, overwhelmingly unlike many other potentially well-paying jobs. The people who make more than "get by" money at art are exceedingly rare proportionate to the population of people who want to be artists for a living, overwhelmingly unlike most other potentially well-paying jobs. The artists who try and fail for a number of different reasons (INCLUDING luck) probably outnumber the failed ranks in every other profession if we don't count teenagers in retail.

In short, to put it in reverse, our society is not overwhelmingly concerned with paying for art, and the pressure on an artist to produce is enormous, lest the 1000 artists dreaming of a paying job behind him/her take the job instead.

I know an artist/writer who published two books, takes commissions, develops networks for herself and friends in her network to mutliply those networks (thousands of followers), does the Patreon/artblog/tumblr/promoforum/webcomic/etc thing, and makes enough to get by only because she's still living with her parents. I have never met the MBA in that situation. I have never even heard of the MBA in that situation.

And that SUCKS. But let's not pretend it isn't real.

It's very similar to acting(which I guess you can consider an art in which case it is exactly the same) Lot
s of people flock to Hollywood with big dreams. The vast majority don't make it, but those that do like to act like it is possible for everyone. It isn't possible for everyone, but is possible for anyone. When putting an equal amount of effort in to the arts and a corporate job the odds of getting a well paying career out of it are with the latter.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: Salim on March 07, 2017, 05:49:08 PM
The posters who said you can't make a living at art are incorrect. It does take commitment and hard work, like every other good job. Good luck with whatever you decide to do.

That's unrealistic at best and dishonest at worst. Yes, there exist artists who make a living at art. It takes a mountain of hard work to even get the ball rolling, then a lucky break or an exceedingly well developed network of followers, overwhelmingly unlike many other potentially well-paying jobs. The people who make more than "get by" money at art are exceedingly rare proportionate to the population of people who want to be artists for a living, overwhelmingly unlike most other potentially well-paying jobs. The artists who try and fail for a number of different reasons (INCLUDING luck) probably outnumber the failed ranks in every other profession if we don't count teenagers in retail.

In short, to put it in reverse, our society is not overwhelmingly concerned with paying for art, and the pressure on an artist to produce is enormous, lest the 1000 artists dreaming of a paying job behind him/her take the job instead.

I know an artist/writer who published two books, takes commissions, develops networks for herself and friends in her network to mutliply those networks (thousands of followers), does the Patreon/artblog/tumblr/promoforum/webcomic/etc thing, and makes enough to get by only because she's still living with her parents. I have never met the MBA in that situation. I have never even heard of the MBA in that situation.

And that SUCKS. But let's not pretend it isn't real.

Hargrove, I still think you are mistaken. Wanting to do some work because you think it is glamorous and getting the skills and knowldge to do it and apply for the job are not the same thing. I make a good living as an artist and I have many friends who are artists and make good livings. For example, there are many good jobs for print and web designers in corporate web and marketing departments all across the country, as well as advertising agencies and design firms everywhere.

A sad part of the business, which may be what is influencing your opinion, is that unqualified people think they will get work as graphic designers and will be surprised when they don't. I know whereof I speak because I own a graphic design firm. I have reviewed many, many resumes and interviewed many applicants. It was amazing how many people could not meet the minimum job requirements, such as experience with page layout software. Part of the problem is that many graphic design schools teach art theory but not how to use the everyday software designers need to use. This is fact. One of my basic minimum job requirements was "must be expert in Adobe InDesign", the most commonly used page layout software in the U.S. Only a handful of poeple who applied to me over the years actually knew how to use the software. Many lied about it.

Same with fine art. It's highly unlikely that a person with minimal skills and without a consistent body of good work will get into galleries. The funny thing is, I never took a course in graphic design in school, but I did study fine art and later worked hard to learn graphic design software on the job and independently. The really good thing about graphic design is that your skills, portfolio, and work ethic are the only things that do count. The ones who lie may get a foot in the door, but they don't last.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: horsepoor on March 07, 2017, 10:50:04 PM
OP - one thing I haven't seen addressed is interview skills.  With the jobs you are applying for, are you getting interviews?

I ask because I've been interviewing entry-level candidates in a science field lately, and interview skills, I think, are not emphasized adequately.  So, practice.  Have a friend look up questions online and ask you to answer them on the spot.  Write down a list of your skills and practice tying them to different types of interview questions on the fly.  Make sure that you seem enthusiastic about the position, have a narrative about how it fits in with your interests and career goals, and prepare some intelligent questions to ask the interviewers about the position.

I recently interviewed a young man who came very highly recommended, and his interview was very lackluster.  We asked him technical questions about several duties within the job description, and his answers were fairly vague, and he admitted to not having experience in some of those areas.  Then, we received his written professional references.  They were all glowing, and provided more detail about his technical experience in these same areas.  It was apparently that he vastly undersold himself on the interview, and it probably cost him the job offer.  I'd venture that this goes double for you if you're interviewing with botany/horticulture jobs with a sociology degree.  I'll freely admit that I look more critically at candidates who have a "novel" degree relative to the job they're interviewing for.

I'll also offer that, I somewhat followed my passions, in that I went into the plant ecology field instead of perhaps law or engineering, with the recognition that I would earn less money (but with better prospects than a horse-related career).  I'm now earning more than I ever expected, but it comes with responsibility, and lots of time behind a computer screen.  Overall, I enjoy my job, but I don't love it every day.  The common pattern is increasing responsibility and stress with increasing income within the field, and more time in the office and less time outdoors.  If I'd opted for the low stress, field-oriented track, I'd still be making about half of my current salary, and some people I know make the conscious decision to earn less and stick with field work even with an advanced degree.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: shelivesthedream on March 08, 2017, 12:16:14 AM
Hargrove: "making a living as a working artist" is not an impossible, unrealistic idea. But what it doesn't look like is poncing around a studio painting your inner child and then having people pay you for it. I think theatre (all theatre, not just acting) is harder to make a living at because the product relies on the artists and audience all being in the same place at the same time for a single live experience. That's expensive and there's no up sell or introductory purchase. But music or painting - sure you can make a living. IF you are willing to: a) work hard; b) hustle; c) be businesslike about it.

Lots of artists are on board with (a). But when it comes to (b) you can't wait around for some fairy godmother gallery owner to bless you with their patronage. And you can't ponce around with a paintbrush all day. You need to get out there and seek out opportunities. Teach classes, apply for residencies, apply for public or commercial art commissions, paint pet portraits, take a stall at an art fair, print postcards.

And lots of artists are bad at (c). If you want to make a living from art, art needs to be a business. Is it more valuable for you to spend four hours painting a mural in a child's bedroom for £150 or applying for a residency that would get you £3000 IF you got it? Do watercolours or oils sell better? Is it better to make 10 more expensive limited edition prints or 30 cheaper ones? Can you break into the lucrative wedding market?

If you don't want to think about these things, don't try and make a living as an artist. It's TOTALLY FINE for art to just be a hobby. It doesn't make you a lesser person.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: Hargrove on March 08, 2017, 05:53:01 AM
Hargrove: "making a living as a working artist" is not an impossible, unrealistic idea... And lots of artists are bad at (c)... If you don't want to think about these things, don't try and make a living as an artist. It's TOTALLY FINE for art to just be a hobby. It doesn't make you a lesser person.

Lol well thank you for not thinking less of me for not trying to make a living as an artist. I am... not trying to be an artist... I am doing something else, though I still write. I make more than the EIC of the NY Times, a fact which actually makes me sad, and if doing that for a few years gets me the freedom to be a starving artist later (without the starving), well, that became my plan. Making money as an artist is unrealistic as a job prospect. Not even training usually prepares you for the business aspect. Most people I got my degree with thought you got it, left the university, and people threw jobs at you - they were right if they went with a business or finance degree, but not with an arts degree. Anyone but not everyone, as another poster mentioned, can be an artist. Anyone could maybe quit his/her job and be a mime in NYC. But very few people proportionate to the whole can/are making it work. It doesn't mean this one person you know who is good and has business sense shouldn't try if that makes them feel like rainbows and unicorns. And, it does mean that the general advice that art is a great career path is not really helpful. +10 for "poncing," thank you.

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(Mara): Hargrove, I still think you are mistaken.

I would love to be. I think it's objectively true what I said about modern Western society not clamoring to throw money at art. You seem to separate fledgling freelancers from the Real Deal™ on the basis of resume credentials, which I don't think is quite right, but it is also true that a mountain of people who can draw things have no business sense (an unfortunate number only want jobs from the internet, which makes it more unlikely). But I never said wanting a job and doing the right stuff to get it were the same.

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A sad part of the business, which may be what is influencing your opinion, is that unqualified people think they will get work as graphic designers and will be surprised when they don't. I know whereof I speak because I own a graphic design firm.

My understanding is that it's more a problem of production vs hobby for many of them (your earlier point, perhaps). "I don't care that you make Swivels the Hero dazzling if it takes you 12 hours and should take 1." For another bunch it's not wanting to network. For another bunch it's not being good enough. Regardless of your willingness to sweep away the seriousness of these people, the fact remains that there are enough "bunches" that there's an army of free labor working for "exposure," just like in writing, objectively reducing the real and perceived value of production. I learned InDesign myself and created a journal layout from the ground up with it, represented at two major national conferences, edited freelance, and mentored an author who published and started a web comic. And, the bottleneck in both arts is IMMENSELY exacerbated by degree-holders living with parents and working for free.

If you want to do journalism or art, you walk into the university department and demand to see the computers. Then you check their InDesign and Maya and whatever else versions. If they're not there, or not up to date, you might as well pay 60k to your buddy for a sheet of paper to light on fire instead of getting your degree, because the most employable person will work with JUST THAT their whole academic career. Worse, your degree costs more than your entire first-year salary tax-free. And when you graduate there's a new InDesign or Maya or whatever anyway. Clock's ticking!

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I have reviewed many, many resumes and interviewed many applicants. It was amazing how many people could not meet the minimum job requirements, such as experience with page layout software. Part of the problem is that many graphic design schools teach art theory but not how to use the everyday software designers need to use. This is fact.

I know it's fact. I have also reviewed many resumes - it's basically every field you get more job spam than you can read. The problem with what you're talking about is not as simple as "get the right credentials," however, because you can't separate the fakes from the real ones unless you have a test or hire them first. I have been an employer and can sympathize that you would totally hire the right person who learned the wrong version etc. if they were good and could learn, but you must also be aware that you can't figure out who is lying on their resume and who is good and who can learn until very close to or after the decision is made, and many potential artists get filtered out at that step. People who get weeded out for no prestigious degree but know InDesign are up a creek. People who are smart and capable in most capacities but don't know InDesign and are honest have a similar issue. And besides, graphic design isn't the only art job, so many never learn InDesign, and even universities with it often have the wrong one. None of this is the artist's fault, but MBAs don't exactly suffer from "had the wrong book/software, didn't get the job."

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Same with fine art. It's highly unlikely that a person with minimal skills and without a consistent body of good work will get into galleries. The funny thing is, I never took a course in graphic design in school, but I did study fine art and later worked hard to learn graphic design software on the job and independently. The really good thing about graphic design is that your skills, portfolio, and work ethic are the only things that do count. The ones who lie may get a foot in the door, but they don't last.

I don't understand why you won't acknowledge competition is an extremely wide group in art. It seems a simple step to acknowledge from there that it's unusually hard to do what you're saying vs a different field. I believe you're a successful artist. I am not sure why you think it's just as accessible as the average job.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: Salim on March 08, 2017, 06:42:18 AM
Hargrove: "making a living as a working artist" is not an impossible, unrealistic idea. But what it doesn't look like is poncing around a studio painting your inner child and then having people pay you for it. I think theatre (all theatre, not just acting) is harder to make a living at because the product relies on the artists and audience all being in the same place at the same time for a single live experience. That's expensive and there's no up sell or introductory purchase. But music or painting - sure you can make a living. IF you are willing to: a) work hard; b) hustle; c) be businesslike about it.

Lots of artists are on board with (a). But when it comes to (b) you can't wait around for some fairy godmother gallery owner to bless you with their patronage. And you can't ponce around with a paintbrush all day. You need to get out there and seek out opportunities. Teach classes, apply for residencies, apply for public or commercial art commissions, paint pet portraits, take a stall at an art fair, print postcards.

And lots of artists are bad at (c). If you want to make a living from art, art needs to be a business. Is it more valuable for you to spend four hours painting a mural in a child's bedroom for £150 or applying for a residency that would get you £3000 IF you got it? Do watercolours or oils sell better? Is it better to make 10 more expensive limited edition prints or 30 cheaper ones? Can you break into the lucrative wedding market?

If you don't want to think about these things, don't try and make a living as an artist. It's TOTALLY FINE for art to just be a hobby. It doesn't make you a lesser person.

Great points.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: tarheeldan on March 08, 2017, 07:04:52 AM
Here are some numbers on artists from the BLS from May 2015:
https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nat.htm#27-0000
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: Jouer on March 08, 2017, 07:44:37 AM
So you have a sociology degree and are artistic/creative. Sounds like marketing is the career for you. My wife has a sociology degree and has worked her way up to senior management in a financial firm. You learn a lot in sociology classes that works well for marketing, namely understanding people. Marketing just calls them consumers.

Don't expect a great paying job right away, of course. In fact, you might take a pay cut at first, since you'll be starting off fresh. But the money will come if you work hard enough and are good at your job.

I'd suggest the banking industry as a place to make good money and then once you get enough experience (and $$), you can do marketing for agriculture, your passion.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: Salim on March 08, 2017, 07:56:03 AM

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I don't understand why you won't acknowledge competition is an extremely wide group in art. It seems a simple step to acknowledge from there that it's unusually hard to do what you're saying vs a different field. I believe you're a successful artist. I am not sure why you think it's just as accessible as the average job.

Thank you for sharing more of your perspective. I can understand your point of view better. I don't know if the art jobs are less accessible, maybe because I am often surrounded by hard-working artists. I was responding to your statement that it is impossible for an artist to get a good job and I reacted when when you said, "That's unrealistic at best and dishonest at worst."

It seems to me that all jobs are hard in one way or another. I have little aptitude for anything that might get me into school for, or a job in, the STEM fields. Art and music came more easily. It sounds like you have both right-and left-brain talents, which is wonderful. I hope you can pursue your writing as well as your higher paying job.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: Gondolin on March 08, 2017, 10:45:20 AM
Quote
The problem with what you're talking about is not as simple as "get the right credentials," however, because you can't separate the fakes from the real ones unless you have a test or hire them first.

Software is king. Testing candidates via a battery of software and coding challenges even before a phone interview is increasingly common. If this practice hasn't spread to corporate graphic design/art yet, it soon will.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: Salim on March 08, 2017, 10:56:53 AM
Quote
The problem with what you're talking about is not as simple as "get the right credentials," however, because you can't separate the fakes from the real ones unless you have a test or hire them first.

Software is king. Testing candidates via a battery of software and coding challenges even before a phone interview is increasingly common. If this practice hasn't spread to corporate graphic design/art yet, it soon will.

I agree! I'll never hire anyone again without testing.
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: Hargrove on March 08, 2017, 06:29:55 PM
Thank you for sharing more of your perspective. I can understand your point of view better. I don't know if the art jobs are less accessible, maybe because I am often surrounded by hard-working artists. I was responding to your statement that it is impossible for an artist to get a good job and I reacted when when you said, "That's unrealistic at best and dishonest at worst."

It seems to me that all jobs are hard in one way or another. I have little aptitude for anything that might get me into school for, or a job in, the STEM fields. Art and music came more easily. It sounds like you have both right-and left-brain talents, which is wonderful. I hope you can pursue your writing as well as your higher paying job.

Oh! No, sorry, I didn't mean impossible when I said unrealistic. I think it needs a different sort of coaching than the kind we give. Our society tends to tell the story of the person who won as if there weren't 1000 also-rans who got no prize, no trophy, no newsreel, no spotlight. You can't achieve a dream you've given up on, but not-giving-up isn't a free ticket to a dream. I think there's value to saying "not so fast - it's not nearly that easy." Because the follow up question of the real dreamer is "what else do I have to do?" That's the question we don't ask enough. In your field, perhaps the answer would be "learn InDesign."

Someone told me once she wanted to be a writer. I said "oh?" and smiled. I didn't engage very much. She became more curious. She had ups and downs. She was frustrated. She said it wasn't working. I didn't steer the ship for her. She didn't go to college, and she beat herself up about it. She submitted some things. She worked on and off. Finally she asked, "what do I have to do?" My answer was that you have to write every single day. It doesn't matter whether you always want to do it. You'll probably never make it anywhere if you stop once it's not easy. Too bad if you're busy. Your work will often be total crap, but that can't be a reason not to do it either. You have to learn to want something that hard, hard enough that the wanting sustains you. You can't be a writer by going to college - inside or outside of college, what you craft comes from you, and you're already carrying it around. Enrich yourself - if college can do that, great, but only you will make yourself a writer or not. You have to collect your rejection letters and write your next submissions on the back of them. That's the artist/author discipline. It has to become odd to you not to write. Then your work will develop visible progress. She tried a bit and got frustrated. Worked off and on. She asked again. I said the same thing. Fast forward a few years and at a New Years' party her computer had crashed and she lost a substantial portion of work right before a deadline. She zombied right out of the party and submitted it with minutes to spare and it got published for the first time. She did one after that, and THAT got published, and she was off to the races. Not well-paid either, but getting the idea.

That's a pretty epic story for pursuing the work, I think, and I guess my measured response to the "dream and you'll get there" language is that the above story is hard, really hard, a lot harder in my opinion than working a lot at something you don't pour your soul into. Pouring your soul into work that never gets anywhere is absolutely crushing, and unsuccessful artists deal with it all the time in part, I think, because nobody they trust tells them how hard it is and they're not constructively chasing what they're doing wrong. And it's not easy to translate how hard it is to someone who doesn't already get it. You can help a little.

I left words-as-a-business because, as I said, I could get FI in 5 years with skills I picked up on the side, catapulting past a 20-year-career salary at a prestigious something-or-other. I wanted to buy my freedom and escape the ultimatum that's much worse for the lower-paid career aficionados. I decided I could live with being a starving artist, but I could not inflict "you starve too" on a family. My SO, as it turns out, is a starving artist! It works out nicely because she is trying to make art/writing work and has my support to do it (I never stopped valuing these things, my view now is just that "art supplies" includes "FI fund").
Title: Re: living simply, still broke!
Post by: Salim on March 09, 2017, 12:38:13 PM
Hargrove, you've chosen a fast route to get where you want to be. Your wife is fortunate to have a patron. My route was longer and slower, but I got there... pant... pant.

I'm glad you told us the inspiring story about your friend learning to embrace the commitment. I hope our discussion has been useful to the OP.