By Karin Mizgala, MBA, CFP
There is a popular expression, that’s actually the title of a book published in the 1980’s, “Do what you love and the money will follow.” But my experience as a financial planner and money coach tells a different story. The people who are most successful following their bliss are the ones who don’t just assume the money will follow, they take charge and make a plan. These six steps are a great way to start.
Step 1: Evaluate. Look at this career change decision as an opportunity to evaluate your mindset around money. Examine your limiting thoughts, and be determined to believe in yourself and your ability to take charge.
Step 2: Take stock. With a positive attitude in place, take stock of your assets, savings and debt level. You can use this Net Worth Statement to get started. If your debt is high, (especially credit card debt) you will want to work on lowering that debt before you make changes. But don’t let debt stop you, let it take you to step 3.
Step 3: Create a plan. Create a spending, savings and debt repayment plan. This is where you get to feel in charge. What are your actual expenses? What income do you need to meet them? What can you trim, if only for the short run, to give yourself more ability to lower debt and/or create savings. This is a great opportunity to get creative. Can you save money through bartering services with neighbours or friends? Do you have a skill you could teach part-time? Every step you take, no matter how small, will feed your confidence in your plan.
Step 4: Begin to transition. Consider ways to transition slowly. If you are starting your own business or going back to school, can you do that part-time while remaining in your current job? For example, could you start your business on weekends, and build clientele and a reputation before going full-time? If you are taking courses, can any of them be done online, on your own time or through evening classes? Would it be possible to shift to part-time hours in your current job? Or, if you worked in your new business or took classes during the week, could you handle a part-time job on weekends or evenings to supplement your income? If you can’t transition slowly, you may have to wait until you’ve saved enough to cover 6 to 12 months of expenses before you make the change. What you don’t want to do is rely on credit to keep you going. That creates a burden too heavy for a new business to handle. Better to wait a year to start with money in the bank, than to be out of business in a year.
Step 5: Stay engaged. Once you have a plan and start to implement it, you will face challenges. It’s inevitable. Don’t slip into old habits of avoidance. More than ever, it’s crucial that you check in for an hour a week to see where you stand financially. How are you doing? Were income and expenses what you expected? Have circumstances that impact your needs changed?
Step 6: Take care of yourself. Making a career change is full of uncertainty, try to keep the rest of your life as calm as possible. It probably isn’t a good time to change career if you are about to get married or start a family. It’s also important that you eat well, get enough sleep and exercise. Life changes are emotional marathons and the better your health the better you’ll manage.
When things don’t work out in a new venture, lack of money is often cited as the reason. I would counter that it was more likely a lack of planning, engagement and honesty around money that was the downfall.
“Do what you love and the money will follow,” leaves a lot up to chance. At Money Coaches Canada we champion a more powerful position; “Take charge of your money and follow your dreams.”