Author Topic: Mid-20s and Anxious for FIRE, Should I Change My Career to Increase Earnings?  (Read 4078 times)

frances

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Life Situation: DINKs anxious to leave the office behind. I'm almost 27 y/o and DH is almost 33 y/o

Gross Salary/Wages: Me - $34k , DH - $63k

Pre-tax deductions: We both max out our 401ks and IRAs

Current expenses: Not so much concerned with detailing this, we are good savers with low expenses

Assets: We each have about 100k. Combined we have 200k but we have our money in separate accounts. DH comes from working class background and earned all of his money himself. I had an inheritance and was put through school by my folks. He is 6 years older and has had a career for 10 years and we have the same amount of money. I am totally fine with us having separate finances considering I make half of what he does and have had a much easier go of it. (This part was updated after questions about why our finances are separate). We also have 30k equity in our 100k home. We own one paid off car.

Liabilities: No debts aside from mortgage

Specific Question(s):
Because I work in the nonprofit world my salary is really low. We are eager to FIRE as soon as possible but my income will clearly prevent me from doing so anytime soon and DH is definitely beat me to it by years at our current wages. I happen to have a $5k education award to use by 2020 or I lose it. Considering that I already have a BA and this money that can only be used for education, should I go to school to get another degree that would be higher paying? I'm looking for the least amount of schooling with the highest pay and flexibility. I'm considering accounting or nursing to do PRN. Are these degrees/professions that realistically fit my criteria? If not what are some?

Basically I'm wondering if I should:
1) Go to school PT while working to get a degree that would get me a higher wage
2) Get a second job like waiting tables to speed things up until I burn out and have to drop back down to just the one job I currently have; get a second job again until I can't handle anymore; repeat
3) Work a few more years and drop down to some kind of PT work that would cover my living expenses and allow me to let my nest egg grow, but also never fully FIRE for quite a long time but have a good amount of free time still
« Last Edit: October 01, 2015, 12:55:00 PM by frances »

thd7t

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You should write a case study.  http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/how-to-write-a-'case-study'-topic/  It's great that you're maxing your tax advantaged retirement options, but without some more info, we can't know.  Also, do you dislike your non-profit work?

nereo

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Hmmm.... I've got alarm bells ringing after reading your post.

First, you seem unhappy in your current job and want to FIRE (not just become FI) as soon as possible
Then - you want to know what degree you should get to give you the maximum amount of money in the shortest period of time.
Finally, to complicate things, you and your husband seem to have vastly different salaries *and* it doesn't appear shared (evidenced by your statement that "DH [can] beat me to [FIRE] by years at our current wages"

Let's start with your current job:  Why do you hate it?  Is it only the money aspect that is troubling you?  If so, I can sympathize - my wife and I have advanced degrees but make about what you do currently (combined).  You have a decent amount of savings and so, even without making any drastic changes it's certainly possible to retire by/before age 40.

IF you move to another job - I'd strongly recommend choosing one that actually holds your interest.  You aren't sinking in a debt trap, so it's better to choose something you enjoy vs. taking a job with a high salary that will leave you wanting to claw your eyes out every Monday morning.  What do you do now?  Can you find a job without another degree that might pay you in the $45-55k range?  Even a modest change like that could have you FI/RE in under 10 years.  Hard to give you specifics since you didn't include detailed spending, but given how you max out your 401(k)s and IRAs it seems your expenses must by very low.
Given this timeline, I'm not sure any amount of schooling in any field will be worth the sacrifice of time and the outlay of cash unless you genuinely have an interest in the job in the first place.

Finally - how would this work with your husband?  You appear to keep your finances very seperate (or maybe I"m mis-reading it) - is he ready to FIRE? can the two of you work together to both be FIRE around the same time?

I'm encouraged by your large savings at a young age, but I"m concerned at your approach.

 

Easye418

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It looks like you are doing extremely well.  No debts, combined around $100k, $100k house ($70k mortgage), maxing out 401k, and I assume you budget well. 

I guess it depends on how many years you want until you FIRE.

Nursing school is a bitch.  It's extremely competitive, demanding, and its a tough gig.  Clinicals will most likely conflict with your FT job currently.

All of these case studies about people working for non-profits and their salaries make me sick.  4 year degree to come out making $34k is insulting.  Hell, I had a BS in Fin (MBA now) and I thought coming out making $18 an hour was insulting.  Nearly doubled that within 2 years tho.

dess1313

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Even if you're making huge money, it won't matter much if you dread going to work each morning.  A Job you hate won't make you happy even if there's lots of money.

You sound unhappy in your job right now.  Is it the money or is it the job?  I would take the credit if possible but already talking of working until burnout troubles me.  This isn't healthy behavior.  And long term puts a lot of stress on you, and any relationships you have.  Do some slow education on the side, and work towards something but you need to pick something that you will enjoy.  What that is depends on you.  Do some research but don't look at just the money

nereo

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All of these case studies about people working for non-profits and their salaries make me sick.  4 year degree to come out making $34k is insulting.  Hell, I had a BS in Fin (MBA now) and I thought coming out making $18 an hour was insulting.  Nearly doubled that within 2 years tho.
LOL - it's even more frustrating from the perspective of the person earning so little.  I have a masters and my last "real world" job paid less than the OPs. Now I'm finishing my PhD and entering "post-doc" territory, and it's a kick in the stomach to see positions advertised that require a PhD, top-tier credentials and pay under $40k, with dozens of qualified people interviewing.  Oh boy, 30 years old with 10+ years of post-highschool education and I can earn slightly less than than the kid at Starbucks?
(sorry, went off on a rant there)

Yankuba

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All of these case studies about people working for non-profits and their salaries make me sick.  4 year degree to come out making $34k is insulting.  Hell, I had a BS in Fin (MBA now) and I thought coming out making $18 an hour was insulting.  Nearly doubled that within 2 years tho.
LOL - it's even more frustrating from the perspective of the person earning so little.  I have a masters and my last "real world" job paid less than the OPs. Now I'm finishing my PhD and entering "post-doc" territory, and it's a kick in the stomach to see positions advertised that require a PhD, top-tier credentials and pay under $40k, with dozens of qualified people interviewing.  Oh boy, 30 years old with 10+ years of post-highschool education and I can earn slightly less than than the kid at Starbucks?
(sorry, went off on a rant there)

Salaries are so out of whack today. I was looking at getting a masters in social work but the degree would take four years, require two, one year internships and starting salaries for social workers in NYC are $45K with a masters.

El Gringo

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All of these case studies about people working for non-profits and their salaries make me sick.  4 year degree to come out making $34k is insulting.  Hell, I had a BS in Fin (MBA now) and I thought coming out making $18 an hour was insulting.  Nearly doubled that within 2 years tho.

I started out at $32k (in Washington DC) five years ago working for a non-profit. I've gotten it up to about $48k now. What's even more frustrating is to get anywhere in this field, I'm expected to go to $50k-100k in debt for a two year graduate degree.

Gone Fishing

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I say go for more money.  Have you already scouted all the other non-profits for opportunities to advance?

Playing with Fire UK

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If working for a non-profit is part of your FIRE plan, you could look for higher paid work now outside of the non-profit sector, and then volunteer or work for fun at a non-profit when the money isn't an issue.

It does bother me that my sisters who are as smart and educated as me make 2/3 of my wage for working harder because they care and do important work (teaching), whereas I don't care about others so much so get a massive pay rise, for less work and less emotional investment.

I understand about the separate finances, that's similar to how I do it with my SO and it works for us.

Could you use the education award to qualify in something you could do part time for more money than waiting tables? What skills shortages are there in your area? Any interest in plumbing / computers / coding / doing tax returns / coaching. If not then I'd try to use it for something that would be interesting and rewarding.

FLBiker

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While it can certainly sometimes make sense to go back to school for a degree in order to get a particular type of job, I think it's really important to do so with a full understanding of what that job is like, what the chances of getting that job are like, etc.

I work in academia, and I know lots of people who have gone for PhDs with no clear path in mind other than "wanting to be a professor".  Nowadays, that is a very uncertain proposition.  Same with folks I know who got MFAs.  That said, there are plenty of grad degrees that are surer paths to jobs.  Go in with your eyes open, though.

spokey doke

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Be sure to run the numbers on what a full degree would cost...$5K doesn't go that far at most universities, and going down that road may have you on the hook for a chunk of money to finish the program.

The non-profit world can be grueling, and I've seen a number of exec. directors get burned out doing tons of work for dirt pay and lots of uncertainty when I was on a board of directors. 

But check out the alternatives on the ground (the actual everyday work) before jumping into a program - find a way to spend some time talking to actual accountants (in big firms, and those who are self-employed) as well as nurses.

Also, cut yourself a bit of slack on FIRE...you are way ahead of so many at a very young age...


MsSindy

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So, what degree do you have now?  Maybe we could help you brainstorm some positions that you can start to set yourself up for now without going back to school.  A lot of times the skillset will transfer to other industries, regardless of your degree.

MonkeyJenga

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Specific Question(s):
Because I work in the nonprofit world my salary is really low. We are eager to FIRE as soon as possible but my income will clearly prevent me from doing so anytime soon and DH is definitely beat me to it by years at our current wages. I happen to have a $5k education award to use by 2020 or I lose it. Considering that I already have a BA and this money that can only be used for education, should I go to school to get another degree that would be higher paying? I'm looking for the least amount of schooling with the highest pay and flexibility. I'm considering accounting or nursing to do PRN. Are these degrees/professions that realistically fit my criteria? If not what are some?

I don't think another degree is the answer, unless you really really want to be an accountant or nurse. I don't have a BA, work in a non-profit, and have a high salary. You should be able to find something better at another company, non-profit or not.

If you didn't have the 5k, would you go back to school? It's a small amount in the grand scheme of things.

Following on what MsSindy said, what skills and tools do you have and/or use at your job? You're probably qualified for more than you think already.