Friday, December 21, 2007

Juggling Jobs: It's okay

I've found this is true time and time again as I speak with my fellow indebted bloggers and readers. They're struggling to come up with enough money to pay all the bills coming from every which way, but they're doing it at the cost of their mental well being. They hate their jobs, but they feel they can't really afford to quit simply because of the fact that would mean even more money issues. They're getting large quantities of stress from both directions. While this can be motivating in the short term, it's really not a healthy way to live in the long term.

Everyone seems to think that you have to have a full time job and everything else has to be supplemental. That's not true one bit!

Consider me six months ago. I had a full time, well paying desk job. But I hated everything about it. I hated my boss, I hated the environment I was in, I hated the 35 minute one way commute, I hated the stupid little nit picking stress it caused.

But it paid pretty well. It was the best paying job I'd ever had. But it wasn't enough. So I returned to the drudgery of retail as a part time night job. But that didn't fix things at all. I went to my second job every night mentally exhausted. It only caused more stress, and more stress into a dire financial situation is a deadly combination.

So what did I do? I found a higher paying job that provided less hours, but I got to work from home. I bumped up the hours at my retail job that was right around the corner from my home and I put in my two weeks notice.

I'm in no way advising that you leave your current full time employer right at this moment if you're stressed beyond belief. But if you are, I'd definitely advise you to use some critical thinking about the issue.

Here are some points to keep in mind:

  • Later benefits: Job juggling 2 - 4 part time jobs may lead to benefits at a later date. You always have a form of backup if you find yourself unemployed at one. If you only work one job and you get laid off, you typically have to scramble for two weeks to find another source of income.

    The logic also works in reverse. It also gives you the financial freedom to simply dump one job if it becomes too much of a drain on your mental well being.

  • References Galore: If you're a hard worker a number of part time jobs versus one full time job may lead to an expanded resume and references sheet in the future so long as you keep them in your field of expertise (if you have one.)

    Remember, being a shift manager at Wendy's may not sound glamorous, but it gives you the ability to say you have managerial experience when you apply for something a bit more to your liking.

  • Benefits: Many part time employers don't offer benefits to their employees. Does this worry you? It shouldn't. You just have to look a little harder. Here's a small list of part time employers that do.
    Keep in mind that you can quite likely find many more mom and pop places that offer a benefits package to part timers in your local area. The fact that no part time position will come with benefits is a myth.

  • Offsetting lower wages: It's likely that if you take on part time jobs you're more than likely going to take a hit in pay. That's fine. Some ways to offset it (and actually save / earn more in the process) are:

    • Save fuel. If you're used to a 30+ minute commute, restrict your new multiple job hunt within a smaller circle. Try to plan it so you only work one job a day and that job is within a 15 minute commute.

    • Save expenses. A lot of people go out to lunch with their coworkers. Cut back. Bring your own lunch. Or work while eating if possible.

      I skip lunch at my second job as much as possible.

    • Stay relaxed. The hustle and bustle of your new multi job life style may get to you. If you're working more than one job a day, try to schedule your commute plus a small decompression buffer in between. Bring a book or magazine and give yourself a couple of minutes to rest before jumping into the fire again.

      Consider a quick nap if possible.

      You're doing this for a reason. It can pad your pockets more and provide you with a sense of self satisfaction, but only if you let it.

    • Don't get in a rut. Again, you're doing this for a reason. Pick jobs that benefit you, not the other way around. Apply for jobs that you enjoy, or get a hidden benefit out of.

      For example, many food service jobs offer free meals to employees. (A quick point on this, you might not want to find yourself employed at your favorite place to eat. After 6+ months of working there you'll likely get a little tired of the menu. I'm not allowed to eat at Subway simply because of this. ) Many retail jobs offer hefty discounts on merchandise. Some may provide you with a useful skill you can add to your resume. Keep your mind open.
So long as you play your cards right you can greatly reduce the stress of your work life so you can focus on more important things (like paying that Discover bill). I know things may seem bleak, but you're not chained to any one job. You're free to do what you please, just make sure that coincides with an intelligent and well thought out decision.


WorksForMom said...

Good info, especially always paying your credit card off each month!

Anonymous said...

starbucks also gives their employees a pound of coffee every two weeks. not to shabby.

Lesley said...

Or you can get insurance through a full time spouse/domestic partner usually. I get full dental and medical from my husband.


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