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I really feel for the author when I receive an e-mail like this one from Rick:
My wife is leaving her job in December, I’m a paramedic here in Chicago and we’re both college graduates. Our house is upside down, we don’t have much in the way of savings for retirement or otherwise and we’re trying everything to stay afloat financially. Any help would be appreciated.
[AJC: I changed Rick’s job and location to protect his anonymity]
The worst part is that I can’t really help Rick, for a couple of reasons:
1. I’m not a qualified financial adviser;
2. I don’t know anything about Rick, other than what he has told me in (exactly) 50 words.
But, I can give Rick one piece of specific advice: see a qualified financial professional to help you decide how to deal with your ‘upside down’ house, and work out why you aren’t saving enough, and what to do about it.
I can also give a fairly general piece of advice that Rick can choose to follow or not; and, it’s the same advice that I would give just about anybody who is in a similar situation (under-employed; under-saved; and under-water on their house):
The best way to dig yourself out of a financial hole is to …
… find a way to increase your income!
Cutting costs, while admirable – necessary even – is simply too limited to produce the sort of financial turnaround that Rick and others like him need.
Maybe, Rick can turn his wife’s loss of income into a blessing by refocussing her on starting a business, even it it’s while she actively looks for new employment … a business that can be run part-time (at first) when she does manage to find a new job.
I would give similar advice to Philip, who is desperate for the opportunity to shake off the shackles of being imprisoned in a job:
In 5 years I’d like to not have an office job anymore, working for myself/having my own business. I’m stuck in a job, so I keep it to pay my bills. Designers don’t earn much, so I can’t exactly bankroll my parents’ retirement. I’ve been too afraid to go out on my own.
The best way for you (and, Philip) to overcome your fear of becoming your own boss is to actually start …
… but, start part-time.
Doing something is better than doing nothing, and can quickly lead to more/better opportunities in ways that you could not have predicted in advance: for example, and in Philip’s case, designers can freelance, work (cheaply) on crowd-sourcing sites such as Freelancer.com, 99designs, fiverr.com, and so on.
Even better, Philip could use his own design skills to help create his own web-site or product, and run that part-time to earn some extra $$$ and learn how to run a business – building up his confidence in the process, even if the business never truly takes off.
On the other hand, the business may suddenly find its own life and give Philip the confidence to quit his job and start working on it full-time.
Now, unlike Philip, you may not be a designer … I assume that Rick’s wife isn’t either … but, there are plenty of businesses that you can start part-time that require very little money.
Here are some thought starters (if a teenager can do ’em, surely you can?!): What are some potential low-cost businesses that can be started and operated by a teenager?
But, you’ll never know if you don’t start …