Can I afford a career change?
Money is probably the biggest concern for most of us. Primarily, how much we have coming in, and how much we have to spend on the things we like.
So, it is not surprising that money is also one of the biggest concerns for people who are considering a career change.
The cost of living
Whether you are still living at home, renting or have a mortgage, most people have to pay for where they live. On top of the cost of keeping a roof over your head, you also have all the non-negotiable costs associated with that roof, such as gas, electricity, water and food.
You then have your travel expenses as well as costs that are technically seen as luxuries (but, for many, are seen as essential), such as broadband, mobile phone and media subscriptions (e.g. Netflix and Spotify).
Hard work deserves a reward
You work hard all month, probably working many more hours than you are actually paid for and no doubt you also have an unpleasant commute. So, why shouldn't you treat yourself when you get paid?
So you do and those luxuries come in many shapes and sizes and add to your monthly expenses. Clothes, shoes, gadgets, socialising with friends and not forgetting your holiday abroad to escape, for at least a week, from that job you hate and the life you're bored of.
With all these regular expenses, it's no wonder many people are terrified by the thought of moving into a new career on a basic starting salary.
How the hell are you going to pay to live? And if you can't afford to live, won't you be just as miserable as you are now?
Here's the thing, no matter what job you are in, as long as you are living somewhere, you'll have to pay for the associated costs. However, most of us spend way more than we need to on our utility bills because we don’t have time to shop around so it's easier to just stick with the same provider.
Additionally, many of us pay for things we no longer use. When was the last time you used your gym membership? Are you still paying for mobile phone insurance for the phone you had two years ago?
Too many people spend more than they earn. It is not uncommon to hear about people who earn a decent salary but live from month to month, unable to save and using their overdraft or credit card, or even worse - both - to get them through to the end of each month.
In the UK, we have become a nation that buys things we cannot actually afford. Comfort spending is very common and works in the same way as comfort eating. Many people buy excessively to make themselves feel good because, generally, they are unhappy with one or more areas of their lives.
Every penny counts
So if you are considering a career change but feel hesitant because you don't think you can afford to, take a serious look at your spending. See where you can reduce costs and start a savings account with the money you save.
A career change often requires compromise, so it might mean that you no longer have that daily Starbucks on your way to the office every morning or that you have to cancel your monthly magazine subscription.
Now you might be thinking, well if I give up my luxuries, won't I feel even more miserable?
I'll be honest, in the short term, it can be disheartening. Still working in a job you hate and now with little or nothing to comfort you. However, in the long term, you can transition into a career you love and reduce or maybe even eliminate your desire to comfort spend.
Planning and contingency
A career change can mean a reduction in your income so it is essential you plan your finances before leaving your current career. I would always advise you to have a lump sum saved if possible which you have as contingency money, should you need it.
Remember to do as much research into the career you would like to move into before taking the leap. Get work experience and find out how much you would be likely to start on. Also, find out if there is any training you can do that could increase the salary you start on.
As you can see, with some changes to your lifestyle and spending habits, a career change may be more affordable than you think.
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