Author Topic: Mid life career retraining  (Read 5374 times)

DocCyane

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Mid life career retraining
« on: July 20, 2012, 07:10:04 AM »
I am a 44 year old woman in a relationship with a 49 year old woman. We've been together a year and a half, sharing an apartment after a year of dating. I make $67k a year and DH is on unemployment making enough to contribute to the household, but she's going backward financially. I have a net worth of about $300k and DH is at about $100k. We do not own a home. Our cars are both 7 years old. DH declared bankruptcy less than a year ago due to a frivolous lawsuit against her and a company she was trying to start. We both have zero debt.

It has become apparent that DH needs to be retrained for a different career. She previously worked in horticulture in various capacities (owned a nursery, taught at a community college) but the jobs in this field are low paying or ending. And she's getting too old to do all day, outdoor labor.

I have encouraged DH to use her science background to train for a medical technician job that pays well and has a great long-term outlook. She has warmed to the idea and researched the schooling required. In short, it will take at least the next three years to get her into the job, and she won't be able to work at the same time.

The dilemma is I don't know how to address the next three years if she does choose this path. It would not be possible for me to pay all our expenses on my salary. We live in a high cost area and live quite frugally, but we would fall short. 

Secondly, and this is tough to admit, I'm not keen on paying her way for the next three years. And she wouldn't want me to and hasn't asked, but I hate to see her dip into a 401(k) for this transition. As an aside, I have been in relationships before where I have paid the way for others to get ahead, theoretically for the betterment of us both. The relationships have ended and I'm poorer for the effort.

If I were to contribute all I could, even if it didn't cover everything, she would be better off, of course. It would mean that I would have to forego all but the most basic contributions to my retirement and savings efforts at a time I feel is critical if I want to retire with decent savings or, imagine this, retire a little early.

To further complicate the issue, DH is a hard worker but she has a history of giving up lucrative situations. She has had three jobs that paid excellent wages and benefits, and she has left them for new opportunities. This last time it didn't work out, obviously, and now she's landing hard. I think she's learned her lesson and regretting her departures.

I think that's enough information to get the ball rolling. I'd appreciate any insight that can be lent to this situation.

herisff

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Re: Mid life career retraining
« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2012, 07:32:38 AM »
Look at all health care related jobs, don't limit yourself and your partner to just the med tech jobs. As a horticultural specialist, she is obviously not afraid of hard work, which many health sector jobs are. For med tech you need a lot of chemistry, which I knew I could never pass, and the work is all in the lab. There's also radiology technologist (must be willing to move big/heavy machines around, wear lead gowns, be into surgery at times, and working all over the hospital at all hours of the day (depending on the shift). There's physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy. There's nursing of all kinds, although many/most states are now starting to require a Bachelor's as entry level. There are many many jobs in the health sector, and it's only going to grow. I would say that nursing and physical/occupational/speech therapy are the most people-intensive, so if working with people isn't quite her thing, rad tech and other such jobs give you people in smaller doses. As a surgery nurse, I get alert people in smaller doses (the rest of the time they're under anesthesia or just waking up) which works for me.

Oh, and if she does want to pursue working as a med tech, she can always become a phlebotomist (the people who draw the blood) and work every other weekend during school which could help financially. If she decides that nursing is her thing, she could work as a unit secretary or as an aide (helping the nurses & LVNs). There are many types of entry-level jobs that could help pay the bills.

She might want to consider testing to see which type of job she could be suited for and then request to shadow someone (a doctor/PA, a nurse, a rad tech, etc) to see if the job is really something that she wants to do. All of these jobs are inside buildings, which may not be her thing since she is probably used to being outside most of the day. Many things for her and you to consider, so good luck.

mustachio

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Re: Mid life career retraining
« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2012, 02:20:27 PM »
There are lots of opportunities in horticulture that don't involve hardcore physical labor (without major career changes). 

Higher paying opportunities might be with fertilizer/pesticide/horticultural supply companies, pest management, tech work for seed companies, managing landscaping crews (large corporations), habitat restoration...other ideas, forest service, park service, environmental education.  I guess it probably depends on the part of the country you are in...maybe try your state land grant university or cooperative extension for job/networking ideas? Many horticultural skills apply to agriculture as well, so looking there might open some other options.

mustachecat

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Re: Mid life career retraining
« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2012, 08:57:20 PM »
This isn't too helpful if your partner is absolutely sure she wants to leave horticulture, but do you live somewhere with a municipal park system? Park agencies need administrators, and horticultural experience is looked upon very favorably.

If she's committed to going back to school, what would her schedule be like for those three years? Would it really be a non-stop full-time schedule?

Perpetual_Student

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Re: Mid life career retraining
« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2012, 09:47:59 PM »
Old dogs (sorry, no insult intended), new tricks.  I think she's never going to stop being a career butterfly, flitting from one job to the next after a few years.  Some people need that variety, as frustrating as it can be for those around them.  So even if she trains for this medical tech stuff, she will probably leave it after a few years.  Not worth the training, IMHO.

If you live in a friendly state, she could grow or consult on growing quality reefer, which might make some money (not sure, just thinking...hey, I live in CO!).  The parks idea is good - many city parks look for that experience.  Additionally, if she really knows her wild plants, she could give tours or talks to groups who are interested in that sort of thing.

Or she could be an in-home plant doctor - showing up and diagnosing houseplant problems for people who really care about their plants?  I'm just riffing.  Or she could learn how to scavenge for high-priced mushrooms and sell them to high-price restaurants and chefs.

So many avenues...keep looking!  At the least she can bounce around in all those for a while.  That ought to take up the next twenty years or so.

DocCyane

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Re: Mid life career retraining
« Reply #5 on: July 22, 2012, 07:29:18 AM »
This isn't too helpful if your partner is absolutely sure she wants to leave horticulture, but do you live somewhere with a municipal park system? Park agencies need administrators, and horticultural experience is looked upon very favorably.

If she's committed to going back to school, what would her schedule be like for those three years? Would it really be a non-stop full-time schedule?


We live in California, so the state as a whole just isn't hiring. And the jobs that might come up seem to go to young people with newly inked forestry degrees or park management specialties, which isn't the same as horticulture. Not that I'm an expert, but this is what DH tells me.

As far as going back to school, the coursework and practical hours is full-time for two years. You take courses and you work in a real hospital getting practical experience that gives you the right to sit for a test. Pass the test and you can get a job in ultrasound or what have you.

She has missed the application process for this coming year, so even applying to a program will not occur until next February. However, she needs to find out if her Bachelor of Science degree and coursework in anatomy, algebra, physics, etc is sufficient to get her immediately into the medical program. She may need to retake some of those classes, and if so, I hope she can do so this coming year.

So, in short, yes, it really is a non-stop, full-time schedule.

DocCyane

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Re: Mid life career retraining
« Reply #6 on: July 22, 2012, 07:38:50 AM »
Old dogs (sorry, no insult intended), new tricks.  I think she's never going to stop being a career butterfly, flitting from one job to the next after a few years.  Some people need that variety, as frustrating as it can be for those around them.  So even if she trains for this medical tech stuff, she will probably leave it after a few years.  Not worth the training, IMHO.

If you live in a friendly state, she could grow or consult on growing quality reefer, which might make some money (not sure, just thinking...hey, I live in CO!).  The parks idea is good - many city parks look for that experience.  Additionally, if she really knows her wild plants, she could give tours or talks to groups who are interested in that sort of thing.

Or she could be an in-home plant doctor - showing up and diagnosing houseplant problems for people who really care about their plants?  I'm just riffing.  Or she could learn how to scavenge for high-priced mushrooms and sell them to high-price restaurants and chefs.

So many avenues...keep looking!  At the least she can bounce around in all those for a while.  That ought to take up the next twenty years or so.


I have discussed the "growing pot" issue with her, and it's just not our thing. It may be legal in California to an extent, but there is always the risk of arrest and... We just aren't really into the drug thing.

As far as her bouncing from career to career, I sense that she is done bouncing, knowing that she needs to get serious about earning and saving. But we shall see. Some people just can't sit still.

But that leads me to the real question I have which is, how much do I finance her during this time?

As I wrote in my original post, I don't make enough to cover all our expenses, but if I gave her all my extra, things would be much easier for her as she figured out the next phase of her life. I know other couples who share everything and don't think in terms of my money and your money.

However, having been overly generous in the past with others, and having a goal of a decent retirement - if not an early one - how much do I sacrifice my goals for her?

Obviously no one can answer this for me, but opinions are appreciated.

sol

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Re: Mid life career retraining
« Reply #7 on: July 22, 2012, 09:38:21 AM »
But that leads me to the real question I have which is, how much do I finance her during this time?

Rather than financing her current lifestyle out of your paycheck, how about if you both take a Mustachian vow of poverty?  You could save most of your money rather than spending it, and your sacrifice would then become adapting to a new lower standard of living instead of giving up your income to someone you don't quite trust yet.

If she only brings in 10k/year as a student then you could mach that 10k and the two of you would live together on 20k/year.  You would continue (or increase) your retirement contributions on the assumption that your retirement funds would be shared with her if things work out in the long term.

If she has to dip into her 401k, then the pain of doing so might motivate her to cut her expenses.  And since your 401k would be growing, she doesn't really lose very much as long as the two of you stay together.  Her 401k penalties then become the price of you protecting your assets.

Of course, if you're not willing to reduce your expenses then this discussion is moot, since in that case you would seem to be deciding between floating your partner and breaking up.

mustachio

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Re: Mid life career retraining
« Reply #8 on: July 22, 2012, 04:26:59 PM »
Still stuck on the no jobs in horticulture thing...sounds like she's over it, but just in case
http://www.indeed.com/q-Horticulture-l-California-jobs.html