Author Topic: Reader Case Study - Can you help in spite of my commute?  (Read 6118 times)

playtah

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 22
Reader Case Study - Can you help in spite of my commute?
« on: January 06, 2014, 02:11:29 PM »
Good afternoon, fellow mustachians! I'm a single 33 y.o. who just bought an efficient house and who commutes 35 miles 1-way to work. I would love to hear your thoughts on my situation, and see if there is any hope for vocational joy and financial independence in my future. I'll start with the numbers.

Income:
Approx. $34k from my $15.90/hr. job and the bonuses we get. After taking out $ for 401k and HSA and my 401k loan, my take-home is $890 per pay period (every 2 wks).

Monthly expenses:
$645 - Payment for Mortgage, PMI, Insurance, and taxes on my house
$120 - Verizon cell plan (I live in rural OH and Verizon is the only company that gets reliable reception there)
$95 - student loan payment
$45 - internet service
$30 - Electric service (thanks, CFL bulbs!)
$150 - gasoline
$250 - food, personal items
Total: $1,335

Twice yearly expenses:
$600 - car insurance (each time)
$500 - propane refill (each time)

Assets:
2006 Toyota Corolla (I own outright)
$3500 currently in 401k

Liabilities:
$7500 student loan at 3.5%
$83500 mortgage for home I just purchased at 4%
$3000 401k loan I took out for down payment at 5% (this is taken automatically out of my check, and was accounted for in  my above numbers)
Total: $94,000

Additional info:
-I have a BA in Communications, but am currently not using it. I'm basically an Administrative assistant at a wonderful company, but I really dislike my position as it has no upward mobility,  has nothing to do with my degree, is mundane and with ill-defined objectives and is 35 miles from my house.
-I bought my home because it is within biking distance of a relative that I check on 7 days a week. As a bonus, it was a very reasonable price and the tax rates were very low. Moving isn't an option at this point.
-I would love a different job that is closer to my home. Because I'm in a more rural area, I would most likely have a 15 minute commute to any job in this area.  I'd actually love to work from home and have no clown car commute, but I'm unsure how to pursue this as I don't have a terribly entrepreneurial sensibility, nor any defined skills like coding, medical transcription, etc.  I am able to write reasonable well, I'm great with people, I'm generally creative, and I am a fast learner, so I do have that going for me.
-I doubt any traditional job I get would pay the $15.90 I am getting right now, though I suppose without a long commute, perhaps I could take a several-dollar-an-hour pay cut and still make it.
-I cleaned out my savings buying the house, so I'm building it back up from zero.

I'd love to hear any thoughts you have, and please let me know if you need any other info!


meadow lark

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4831
Re: Reader Case Study - Can you help in spite of my commute?
« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2014, 02:22:47 PM »
It is harder to save money when you live in a rural area, or at least that was my experience!  Kudos to you for being willing to check in on your relative every day.  Too bad you can't live with them, or in an RV on their property.  Yes, your commute sucks, but until you find a job closer, it is hard.  I would do the math.  Think of all the businesses closer to you, think of anything you could offer them, deduct the difference in commuting cost.  Figure out your current hourly wage including the gas, wear and tear on your car, include that extra hour of driving, etc.  And what is it you actually want to do?  Good luck!

playtah

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 22
Re: Reader Case Study - Can you help in spite of my commute?
« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2014, 02:37:19 PM »
Thank you for your encouragement, Meadow Lark! That is a good point about figuring in gas AND wear and tear on my car.  I suppose with all that, I could get by with a $12/hour job if it were close by.  Thank you!

playtah

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 22
Re: Reader Case Study - Can you help in spite of my commute?
« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2014, 02:42:15 PM »
Meadow Lark,

I forgot to add that I'm not exactly sure what I'd like to do job-wise.  All the things I love (writing, theatre, improv comedy, arts) are not really income generators unless you are the top of the top (which I'm not). I'd love to do something at a hospital or rest home (as I think that would be fulfilling). Of course, if there were a more creative niche I could think of that also generated a living wage, I'd be all ears! :)

bdh221

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 9
Re: Reader Case Study - Can you help in spite of my commute?
« Reply #4 on: January 06, 2014, 02:48:53 PM »
Check out Page Plus Cellular. They are a prepaid plan on the Verizon network. I pay 29.95 a month per phone. Maybe people have better ideas but I find that service to work very well.

Allen

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 246
Re: Reader Case Study - Can you help in spite of my commute?
« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2014, 02:55:21 PM »
Page plus wireless to save on your phone bill.  Uses verizon networks but is cheaper.

Your 401k contributions are actually your car repayment right?  With the heating gas and insurance you look to have monthly expenses around $1,435. I rounded up a little.  With your take home of $1,780 you aren't going negative so that is good.  Keep paying down your debt to improve cash flow and look for any new job or side work you can get to improve your income.

You still have a 20% savings rate which is pretty good considering your income at the moment.  I'm assuming your budget leaves out some stuff like socializing, Christmas presents, home repairs, etc.  owning a home is expensive!

You seem to be on the right track, work on getting Paid more.

playtah

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 22
Re: Reader Case Study - Can you help in spite of my commute?
« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2014, 03:14:36 PM »
Thank you, bdh221 and Allen!  I will definitely check them out.

Allen,  I actually own my car outright.  The 401k loan was to help cover my house down payment.  I had around $6600 in there, but took out $3300.  So I guess I'm kind of paying myself back with interest.

You are right that I did leave out socializing, Christmas, etc. 

Thank you so much for your thoughts.  I am definitely churning my brain to figure out how to get paid more and work closer to home.  I'm very willing to learn new skills, I just get bogged down because I don't want to go back to school (and get more debt), but starting from ground zero on a new skill sometimes tends to involve an unpaid internship or lots of money up front. Or maybe I'm looking at it wrong. Like I said, churning my brain :)

Frankies Girl

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2955
  • Age: 81
  • Location: The laboratory
  • Typical Ghoul Next Door
Re: Reader Case Study - Can you help in spite of my commute?
« Reply #7 on: January 06, 2014, 04:33:18 PM »
Is a room mate situation possible? That would really help if you could get someone to share expenses and kick in on the mortgage.

I'm not sure I'd have bought a house in a rural area with that salary and the lack of job advancements, especially if PMI and borrowing from a 401K was in the mix. You've impaired your mobility to move easily for a better job situation, and also going to have to be dealing with maintenance and upkeep, and that's going to mean many tight years, unless you can increase your income soon.

Your car insurance is REALLY high. I pay less than that every 6 months for two cars, one newish with full coverage. Time to shop around, and maybe drop down coverages?

As far as the job situation, have you sat down with your supervisor and told them that you want to advance? Anything that you could be trained on to move to a different department? What did you plan to do with your degree in communications? Can you work a second job maybe on the weekends or have any hobbies or skills that could bring in money (arts and crafts) that you would enjoy? If you were involved in the theater, do you have any skills that could be marketable to the local theaters - sewing costumes, makeup/hair, set building, stage managing or running the light boards? Ask around and see if any playhouses or college theaters have openings for paid workers.

Eric

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4061
  • Location: On my bike
Re: Reader Case Study - Can you help in spite of my commute?
« Reply #8 on: January 06, 2014, 04:46:26 PM »
I am able to write reasonable well

Okay, I got a nice chuckle out of this.


Otherwise, I think Frankies Girl is pretty much right on.

notmyhand

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 59
Re: Reader Case Study - Can you help in spite of my commute?
« Reply #9 on: January 06, 2014, 05:35:24 PM »
I would check around for less expensive car insurance.  I pay less than that for two cars, one newer than yours.  If you're driving history is decent, you should be able to get a better rate.

lysistrata

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 65
Re: Reader Case Study - Can you help in spite of my commute?
« Reply #10 on: January 06, 2014, 05:36:27 PM »
I am able to write reasonable well

Okay, I got a nice chuckle out of this.

Ditto. :)

Also, if you DO write reasonable well, have you looked at earning some extra money writing? I started doing this in 2007 after my first career path didn't pan out. I started submitting articles to magazines and then taking on copywriting jobs for businesses and writing blog articles for other companies. I didn't need to take any courses or pay any money to start - I just googled freelance writing advice and started submitting my stuff and eventually it paid off.

In the beginning I got paid about $25US per 500 words. My first year I made about $3000 just on this side-hustle. Now I earn about $75-$150 per 500 words. $3000 extra in a year would make a huge difference on your income, plus you'd be learning an extra marketable skill. Worth a shot!

Allen

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 246
Re: Reader Case Study - Can you help in spite of my commute?
« Reply #11 on: January 06, 2014, 05:38:44 PM »
I am able to write reasonable well

Okay, I got a nice chuckle out of this.


Otherwise, I think Frankies Girl is pretty much right on.

I once had a grammatical error on my resume, in the line talking about attention to detail. :). Oops.

playtah

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 22
Re: Reader Case Study - Can you help in spite of my commute?
« Reply #12 on: January 06, 2014, 05:47:41 PM »
Eric,

Haha! Yeah, I tried to toot my own horn, but I over-trusted that toot! :)

Frankie's Girl,

Thank you for the suggestions!  I will look into those. 

Just as a matter of illumination, my rationale for buying my house in the location I did was multi-fold:
-I mentioned that I check on my relative 7 days a week, so I needed to be close to the place I was going everyday anyway.
-I have family and friends in this area, so I'm not willing to move far, even for a job. I know this sounds maybe a little stubborn, but they are a real source of joy in my life, and I really can't give them up :)
-It was a really great deal on a house, and I spent that much in rent every month anyway, for the same commute. Now at least I will eventually be building up equity.

I realize those reasons may not be as mustachian as they could be, but I wanted to shed some light on my priorities and way of thinking.  Your suggestions are fantastic!  Thank you so much!

playtah

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 22
Re: Reader Case Study - Can you help in spite of my commute?
« Reply #13 on: January 06, 2014, 05:53:22 PM »
notmyhand, thank you - I guess I really didn't realize how expensive my insurance was before this thread! 

lysistrata, thank you - I will look into the writing thing!  $3000 more per year would be excellent!

Allen, I'm glad I'm not the only one :)

beanlady

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 44
Re: Reader Case Study - Can you help in spite of my commute?
« Reply #14 on: January 06, 2014, 08:20:00 PM »
Would it be possible to convince your employer to let you work fewer days a week with longer hours, or to cut your hours by one day a week? You might be able to make up for the lower income with cost saving due to lack of commute, more time to produce your own food, etc.

k-vette

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 256
    • Bolton Ebikes
Re: Reader Case Study - Can you help in spite of my commute?
« Reply #15 on: January 06, 2014, 09:07:28 PM »
Any idea what kind of gas mileage you get?  I also have a 2006 corolla and commuted for a while.  I bought a scangauge to accurately track mpg.  It shows mpg in real time, along with average, gallons per minute,  and a whole bunch of other things.

Anyway, with real time feedback I was able to increase my mpg from 32 to an average high of 47.  Gas prices around here are around $3.65.  That's around $2.55 per day, or $70/mo with your commute.

Fyi, I've since moved closer.  But the corolla has well over 200,000 miles and still gets better than the epa rating.

ATL

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 20
Re: Reader Case Study - Can you help in spite of my commute?
« Reply #16 on: January 07, 2014, 08:15:14 PM »
Can you pick up a roommate?

electriceagle

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 473
Re: Reader Case Study - Can you help in spite of my commute?
« Reply #17 on: January 08, 2014, 12:10:08 AM »
The folks here have made some great recommendations:

1) Roommate - your rural, low COL area may not have many people looking for rooms, but its worth a try.

2) Writing as a sideline - elance carries listings of writing and programming "gigs". If you can conduct internet research and write reasonably well, you may be able to pick up a few hundred dollars per month.

Get enough regular clientele, and you may be able to replace your $16/hr job with working from home. Who knows?


MissStache

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 710
  • Age: 36
  • Location: Washington, DC
Re: Reader Case Study - Can you help in spite of my commute?
« Reply #18 on: January 08, 2014, 06:44:46 AM »
I'd love to do something at a hospital or rest home (as I think that would be fulfilling).

Have you thought about offering senior care or working for a company that provides home visits?  You already have experience with your older relative and you want to do it, which is rare.  It certainly isn't a job that will be going away anytime soon and people pay a lot of money to make sure their relatives are cared for.  Even part time you could potentially make a good salary this way.


Cromacster

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1696
  • Location: Minnesnowta
Re: Reader Case Study - Can you help in spite of my commute?
« Reply #19 on: January 08, 2014, 06:57:19 AM »
Another writing opportunity from home would be editing academic journals/papers.  I believe there is a thread on the forums about this if you want to do some searching.

Just don't leave your current job until you have paid your 401k loan back, or atleast have the cash to pay it back :/