Busy Being Jobless: One Woman’s Struggles Of Finding Employment

dollar-piggyThe following is a guest post by Colleen Kong-Savage, an illustrator and writer who lives in Manhattan. She shares with us the difficulties of finding employment after a divorce and being out of the workforce for almost 10 years to raise her son. 

Some people are good at making money. Others are not. I am not. In fact I’m really bad at it, and the fact that I am writing for a personal finance blog is rather ironic, if not downright ludicrous. I am that retail worker making minimum wage, not even taking those earnings home because she’s spending it on the merchandise she’s selling. I am your kid’s martial arts teacher who isn’t getting paid because teaching is considered part of her taekwondo training. I am the volunteer parent in the school yard ensuring the kindergarteners don’t get trampled by the third graders. Or I was until I got divorced and now need to learn how to make money.

Now that I have sworn off jobs that do not pay me enough to live, I am unemployed. After 300 job applications where the only employers who acknowledged my existence were those introduced through contacts, or men on OK Cupid trying to meet me, I have decided that my Practical Plan, to procure a steady job in graphic design, is every bit as impractical as my Dream Plan, to get steady work as an illustrator. Thus I have moved on to Dream so as to not waste any more time on the Practical.

A New Adventure Begins: Consulting For A Tech Startup

Scuba diving with turtle in HawaiiIt’ll be two years this spring since I last worked in an office. There’s been some good times with 23 weeks worth of travel and some down times with periods of boredom. But if boredom is the worst of it, then time away from work isn’t so bad. I was able to write a book, spend lots more time with family, get SCUBA certified, and work on my online business to name a few things. It felt wonderful not having to answer to anybody.

But over the past six months I’ve been feeling this void, partially because I’ve got my online work routine efficiently locked down to under four hours a day. The Financial Samurai post queue is over 30 posts deep and there’s no longer a sense of urgency to keep up with an intense writing schedule. Furthermore, going from physically interacting with at least 30 people a day at my old job to only speaking with a couple of folks to nobody a day is a let down that takes time getting used to.

With “Filling The Void In Early Retirement With Part-Time Work,” I hinted at my desire to take on a new challenge, especially since I don’t expect my online business to grow much this year due to a normalization in search traffic. It’s shown promise this January so far, but trees don’t grow to the sky forever. The three year revenue target was reached after a couple years and once again I find myself twiddling my thumbs, wondering if I peaked too early with my endeavors. Maybe I just didn’t set high enough goals. As I’ve said before, the journey is almost always more rewarding than the destination.

So You’re Thinking About Quitting Your Job And Traveling Around The World

globeThis is a guest post by NZ Muse, a mid-20s writer who just completed a six-month trip around the world and lived to tell the tale. I took NZ Muse and her husband out for lunch in San Francisco when they stopped by. A lot of folks want to travel more for an extended period of time, but don’t because they’re either afraid they won’t have a job when they get back, don’t have the funds, or just fear extended travel in general. I feared taking a sabbatical because I didn’t want to risk making less since so much of my compensation comprised of a year end bonus. I also feared getting fired! NZ Muse’s travel is why I really enjoy Australian and New Zealand culture. They are much more relaxed about work and everything seems to always turn out alright!

When you make a life-changing decision, you generally expect some measure of shock and awe when you announce it to everyone you know. But due to the collective wanderlust that courses through the veins of most New Zealanders, the news that I was taking off to travel around the world for half a year didn’t make much more than a gentle splash.

American round-the-world bloggers usually speak of encountering serious pushback when they announce their plans to friends and family. For us, it was more like “About time!” or “Six months? Will that be long enough?”

In your 20s, farewell parties for friends going on their gap years are just as common as parties for birthdays, engagements, and anniversaries. I have plenty of friends who’ve already done their ‘OE‘ (Overseas Experience) and returned to New Zealand, and others who left for their gap year and still abroad a few years later. New Zealand can feel stiflingly small, even if you live in a big city. (A fun fact for American readers: our country is about the size of Colorado.) Escaping the country is a rite of passage that’s been around for decades and will probably continue to be for many more.

Long-term travel was never originally on my life list. I graduated university, started saving for travel, and laid out plans for three big trips: the USA, western Europe, and southeast Asia – roughly one per year, with a month allocated for each (we get four weeks of paid annual leave a year in New Zealand).

This was derailed, however, by my changing jobs and moving to a smaller company; I soon came to realise that taking a month off at a time would now be a lot harder. Around the same time, my wanderlust intensified. More and more of my friends started leaving the country, one seemingly taking off every other month.

My now-husband hated his job, I hated our mouldy rental house, we were planning to get married, and the time seemed ripe for a change. I started reading a ton of travel blogs, researched overseas volunteering opportunities, and kept an eye on STA Travel’s round-the-world deals for students and travellers under 26. And that’s when our tentative one-month European honeymoon turned into a solid six-month RTW trip.

Why six months? It seemed like a nice round number. It fit in well with the destinations on my bucket list and the lengths of stay in each country that we’d legally be entitled to (luckily, New Zealanders have it easy with visas the world over). And most importantly, it seemed about as long a trip as we could afford. Bonus: the Kiwi dollar was strong, and getting stronger.

What’s Life Like As A Financial Advisor? Depends On Your Pain Tolerance

Chart showing share of wealth accruing to various wealth groupsThe following guest post comes on the heels of “Should Your Financial Advisor Be Richer Or Smarter Than You?” where I discuss the plight of the less experienced wanting to break into a notoriously difficult industry with a high failure rate. Ben from Wealth Gospel shares his experience going through training as a junior financial advisor. I can’t help but wonder by the end of the article whether the key to any successful career is to just survive through the initial hardship. Hope you enjoy the insights!

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a career in financial planning is on the up and up. Their research shows that the number of financial advisors is expected to increase by 32% from 2010 to 2020, much faster than the 14% average growth across all career fields. But if you take a look at the current group of advisors, less than 5% of them are under 30. That means the insane growth is more likely to come from career changers than young college graduates. Why is that?

Well, having worked in the industry, I’ve seen first-hand why the younger generation doesn’t want to touch it. But at the same time, I also learned how to scale those barriers that are scaring people away from a potentially lucrative and meaningful career in financial planning.

The Inverted Triangle

Filling The Void In Early Retirement With Part-Time Work

Hawaiian Sunset With Sailboat In Retirement

Over the past one and a half years since leaving Corporate America I’ve done some deep thinking about early retirement through posts such as:

* How Does It Feel To Retire Early?

* Should I Go Back To Work Now That The Good Times Are Back?

* Do You Work Harder Or Relax More During Good Times?

* The Startup Riches Myth: Sell For Millions And Still Not Be A Millionaire

When you’re used to working 12 hour days every day for 13 years it’s very hard to suddenly downshift from sixth to first. You’ll blow up your engine if you do. There needs to be a gradual progression whenever large life changes are made.

The first six months of retirement I was second guessing myself on whether I made the right move. I had just turned 35 years old and short-circuited my career in finance so I could spend more time traveling and doing this new thing online. I worked my ass off to finish writing my book on “How To Engineer Your Layoff” so I could at least say that I produced something meaningful if all went to hell.

My doubts began to calm down during my second six months of retirement because I was able to take a 2.5 week long business trip to Europe to research the happiest people in the worldTraveling while writing and maintaing my online business helped crystallize why I decided to leave Corporate America in the first place – more freedom!

The final six months have been an absolute blast, with six weeks this summer in NYC, Mallorca, and Switzerland (links to FOMO, finding perfect summers, and eradicating apathy) and four weeks this winter in Hawaii all the while working of course. There’s absolutely no law against having fun while traveling to understand different cultures to share them with all of you in my writing. The key is moderation.

ONE THING MISSING FROM THE BELT