5 Tips For Switching To A New Job Industry

career change career The following post is by MPFJ staff writer, Catherine Alford. Cat is a freelance personal finance writer who blogs at www.BudgetBlonde.com

Once upon a time, I was an historian for the National Park Service. I knew very, very tiny details about the American Civil War and spent 40 hours a week tromping through the battlefields in Richmond, Virginia telling the public about the American past. I got chiggers on my legs, got harassed by old guys who thought female rangers were “hot” and received a lot of professional satisfaction from making history interesting and fun to a wide variety of people.

Despite the fact that I loved my job and later moved on to teaching at the college level, today I’m doing something completely different. As many of you know, now I spend countless hours of my week writing about finance.

I have no formal background in finance. I never even took a business class in college (note from Jacob – I got a finance degree in college, but I didn’t learn anything in it about personal finance, so you didn’t miss much! haha). However, my life experiences and ability to learn things quickly has allowed me to embrace this new path and really enjoy it along the way.

If you would have told me a few years ago that I’d be self employed and spending my Saturday morning researching Apple’s performance last quarter, I would have looked at you and laughed.

It’s amazing the twists and turns our life can take, especially for someone who is such a planner like me (who had her whole life figured out complete with a life-long career in the history field!)

Here is my advice for anyone who wants to actively switch to a new job industry:


1. Seek New Connections

Your network in your current job might not be able to carry you over to your new field, but you can use it as a place to start. Maybe one of your co-workers’ parents or spouses works in the field you want to be in, and you can ask for their contact information. You can also search on LinkedIn for people in your area who you might be able to take out to coffee or dinner to ask them questions about their work.


2. Self-Teach Important Advancements

If you want to make a move to marketing, for example, but you have no formal background, it’s important that you take the steps to get there. It will be hard for a boss to hire someone with no background over someone who has a marketing degree, so you’ll have to use all your resources and energy to really leverage yourself. Take some extra classes, work for free in order to learn more about the industry, and in general get as engrossed as possible in the new field so you can speak about it knowledgeably.


3. Gear Your Resume

Chances are, you can “gear” your resume to your new field, even though you’ve never worked in it before. By “gear” I mean you can take some of your current experiences, even volunteer experiences, and show how it makes you qualified for your next job. For example, if I was applying for a job at a finance company, I would point to all of my blog writing experience and not necessarily to my history degrees.


4. Exude Confidence In Your Interview

We’re pretty fond of saying “Fake it ‘till you make it” in my house. It’s said in jest, of course, but much of what my husband and I do requires a lot of confidence. With his career in medicine, medical students are definitely on the bottom of the totem pole and are often grilled with questions. An air of confidence or being confident enough to admit when you don’t know something is actually a good thing. Even if I don’t know how to do something in the world of finance or I’m not sure what a word means, I’m confident at least that I’m resourceful enough to figure it out. When someone questions my qualifications, I always point to my ability to find the answers – that’s one thing that my career as an historian taught me.


5. Work Harder than Everyone Else

When you switch to a new field without the background that other people likely have, it’s up to you to work harder than everyone else. You should get to work earlier and leave later than them. Show your boss that he or she was right to hire you. When you don’t know something, spend extra time looking it up or asking a trusted co-worker for advice. With enough hard work, you can definitely “catch up” or even speed past your co-workers who have years more experience than you do.

Ultimately, my own career switch was gradual and happened over a period of a few years, but if I were to make the switch all at once I would definitely utilize the tips above.

How about you all? Have you ever wanted to switch career fields or have you ever been able to do so successfully?

Share your experiences by commenting below! 

***Photo courtesy of https://www.flickr.com/photos/bionicteaching/10885834946/in/

Advice Needed On Health Insurance Coverage Gap Until Sept. 1st

financial planning Howdy everyone!

Among the many financial changes I am going through right now with finishing up graduate school this week, I learned today that my student health insurance ended (without notifying me) on August 14th.

Since I will likely not be starting a full time job until October, I needed to explore my options for maintaining health insurance (the top priority in the account hierarchy). Unfortunately, the health insurance plan I had does not have a COBRA extension coverage option.

Therefore, I had to scramble today to find a new individual insurance plan on my own. I went through the HealthCare.gov site and enrolled for a Gold level plan ($260 premium per month for individual plan), but the trouble is that the coverage doesn’t start until September 1st. 

Does anyone know if it is possible to obtain immediate health care coverage with Healthcare.gov, or am I simply out of luck and need to be careful for the next 10 days? financial planning

***Photo courtesy of https://www.flickr.com/photos/marinadelcastell/10273621876/in/

How To Save Big Money On Your Groceries

saving money grocery stores frugal living food and groceries The following is a post by MPFJ staff writer, Derek Sall. Derek is the owner of the blog, LifeAndMyFinances.com, where he teaches people how to get out of debt, save money, and become wealthy.

When you think about saving money from month to month, you might initially think about your fuel bill or your cable bill, but these are probably not the areas where you can save the most money.

More often than not, the grocery bill is largely out of whack, and hundreds of dollars can be saved just by making a few tweaks to your food spending habits.


1) Avoid the “high class” grocery stores and discover the discount grocery stores

I used to do my grocery shopping at “high class” grocery stores that offered free popcorn and free coffee during the delightful shopping experience. While the experience was often a delight, I was certainly paying extra for these amenities.

When I started taking a closer look at my budget and saw all the money I was spending on my groceries, I figured there was a better way to buy my food. Low and behold, I was right! Instead of heading to the high class grocery store, I discovered places like Aldi and Save-A-Lot where I didn’t need coupons, but was finding groceries for an even cheaper price than Walmart! Also, since these stores are quite small, grocery shopping is unbelievably fast. This a huge perk for me and anyone else that doesn’t like to spend an hour in the grocery store. Instead, I spend 10 minutes. It certainly is a delight!


2) Buy in Bulk

If you are consistently purchasing the same types of non-perishable goods each week (like granola bars and cereal for instance), then you might want to consider buying these items in bulk. When you purchase three or more of a product at a time, start looking into purchasing these products from a large bulk store and run a price comparison to your per-item purchases. If the savings are severe (which is often the case), then you might want to buy 4-6 months’ worth at a time.


3) Pay Attention to Sales Patterns

The corporate headquarters are often in charge of scheduling the sales on various grocery products. Incidentally, a pattern typically forms around these sales – often 7-8 weeks at a time. When you see a sale on a product that you typically purchase, take note and keep your eye out for when that product goes on sale again. By nailing down the “sale cycle” you can be sure not to pay full price for your products ever again!


4) Eliminate Waste

The average American wastes about 25% of all the food that they purchase. So, if they spend $4,000 a year on groceries, that means they are typically throwing away $1,000 worth of food each year! By avoiding waste, you could save an immediate 25% on your grocery bill.

This savings starts out with a list. Plan out your meals each week and only purchase what is necessary for those meals. In the event of constant left-overs, designate one of the nights as “left-over night” and eat only what is already pre-made and in the fridge. With these methods, your fridge and pantries should stay fairly empty and will allow you to eliminate almost all of your waste.


5) Avoid All Restaurants

There are quite a few people that make life so busy for themselves that they start heading to restaurants instead of making a meal themselves. If you’re paying $12 for a meal at a sit-down restaurant, this can quickly blow your grocery budget. Even if you are driving through McDonald’s and spending just $5, you are still spending too much. There are quite a few simple, healthy meals that will only cost you $0.50 per meal or less if you put them together yourself. Heck, I just grilled up 9 pieces of fresh chicken that I bought for $11. This one cooking session will last me the entire week!

How about you all? Are you going to make any changes to save more money on groceries?

Share your experiences by commenting below! 

***Photo courtesy of https://www.flickr.com/photos/jlarnos/8200880966/in/

3 Changes to Your Finances When You Get Married

marriage financial planning The following post is by MPFJ staff writer, Sally, who is the blogger behind TinyApartmentDesign.com, a blog about design, living well, and simple, tiny spaces.

I’ve been married for over a month and it still feels surreal. I’ll be honest; I still don’t know what to think about marriage. I spent my whole life terrified of marriage, never excited about the way long-time married couples treated each other, watching how awful going through a divorce can be, and generally unconvinced of the positive aspects of marriage. Plus, I consider myself self-sufficient and don’t need to rely on anyone’s income but my own. And yet, here I am, excited to be married to my best friend and partner. Now that we have officially combined forces, I expect some of our finances to change and some to remain the same.


New Goals

One of the biggest expenses we ever incurred together was our wedding. I am so glad we are done with spending money on the wedding, but we also now need to focus on saving for our future. My husband has no savings or retirement funds. We have opened a few in his name, but never contributed to it. I was previously saving 26% of my income automatically, but had put that on hold since February to pay for the wedding. Our goal is to start my husband on a weekly savings plan, and to get me back into saving at least 20% of my income. We’ve always been a team, and now that we are in our 30s, we want to make sure we are always moving forward financially. It’s not easy because spending is easy and can easily take up all of your disposable income, but we want to see out total savings grow quickly in the next 5 years.


New Tax Arrangements

We will be filing as a married couple for part of 2014, and we will also hopefully have some tax credits with the purchase of our first place. If you haven’t seen it yet, this Khan Academy video is a great way to figure out if you’re going to pay more taxes as a married couple. The other benefit to increasing our savings in pre-tax accounts will be the subsequent decrease in our taxable income. Someday, I’d like to be like Mitt Romney: $0 in wages, but plenty of money earned from investments and businesses. Since wages are punished by our draconian tax laws that confirm the federal government’s belief that the wage earner deserves to be punished, I will be focused on figuring out how to decrease my wages while increasing our income as a couple. Currently, all of our income is earned from either regular wages or self-employment income, so this is an important priority for us.


New Accounts

Many married couples will eventually get around to joint accounts, especially checking and credit cards. We’ll continue to put savings in our joint savings account, but our checking and credit cards won’t merge any time soon. We’ve had too much of a history of spending recklessly, and spending without consulting each other. This is something we are excited to work on, but we’re still not in any rush to merge accounts. We’ll continue to share all of our housing and living expenses, and I will continue to handle the actual payment of our bills, setting up online and automatic payments, keeping track of what’s due next and what we would like to buy for our house. Even though I have been the more financially aware member of our household, it’s going to be vital to our success as a couple for both of us to know where stand financially.

How about you all? Did you have any big changes to your finances when you got married?

Share your experiences by commenting below! 

***Image: http://www.freeimages.com/photo/1393177

Don’t Burn Your Bridges When You Leave Your Job

relationships career change career best jobs The following is a post by MPFJ staff writer, Kevin Mercadante, who is a professional personal finance blogger, and the owner of his own personal finance blog, OutOfYourRut.com. He has backgrounds in both accounting and the mortgage industry.

What do you do if you are working for an employer that you absolutely detest? Here’s some advice as to what you shouldn’t do: don’t burn your bridges when you leave your job.

That can be a tall order with some employers. You may be on a job where the employer is completely mistreating you, and even degrading your capabilities as a professional. That never means leaving on bad terms – like telling a few people off and trashing the company in your last few days on the job – otherwise it may come back to haunt you later.


Keeping a professional profile right up until the last day

How you leave a job says more about you than it does about the company you’re leaving or the people who work there. In the business world, your reputation is your most important quality. How you handle leaving a job – particularly an unsatisfactory one – will speak volumes about you.

You want to make sure that at any job that you’re on that you always maintain a high level of professionalism right up until the very last day that you’re employed there. That will include continuing to perform at a high level, even after you’ve given notice.


You never know if you might have to come back some day

As the saying goes, never say never, and that especially applies to returning to old jobs. Though you may be absolutely certain that you are so unhappy on a job that you will never return, you don’t know what the future holds. If the next couple of jobs you’re on are worse than the one you’re on now, your old job could start looking better all the time.

In addition, if your industry goes through a major squeeze, every employer in the field – including the bad ones – will be back in consideration for a new job. That might include the employer you’re working right now, that you’re desperate to leave.

Still another scenario could have an influential friend changing jobs into your soon-to-be former employer, but in a position of rank. If that friend wants to bring you along, it may not happen if you burned your bridges when you left the first time around.


You’ll very probably work with the same people in the future

Most career fields – even those that are common across the country – are fairly small at the local level. That means that there’s a better than even chance that you’ll work with one or more people from your current job at some point in the future. Should you leave your current job in a negative way, you could be building future enemies at a new employer when that time comes around.

People don’t always remember how good or bad a past employer might have been, but it always seems that they can quickly recall how a given coworker from that experience behaved. Even if you absolutely cannot stand the company you’re working for, you should be extra careful to make sure that you always leave a positive impression with as many coworkers as possible. Sooner or later you’ll be working with at least some of them in the future. One of them might even end up being your boss.


You need positive references

No matter how bad a job is, you’ll need to take at least a few good references away when you leave. In fact, it will be even more important the worse that the experience was. If the company will not speak well of you, you have to be sure that you have a few references who will. This can be coworkers, or even supervisors and managers in cooperating departments who are aware of your performance.

And as bad as your current job may be, if the next job that you’re on turns out to be even worse, the references that you will have from this job will be even more important.
The only time that you should ignore the reference factor is if the overall employment situation was so negative that you fully intend to leave it off your resume. But don’t even be sure that will work either. With all of the databases and snooping agencies available today, an employer can find out where you’ve worked in the past even if you don’t disclose it.


Leaving angry won’t fix anything

It’s absolutely true that there are lousy employers out there. They mistreat their employees, show favoritism, foster hostile competition, and seldom reward people for doing a good job. While you might feel particularly drawn toward letting your feelings be known once you give your notice, it probably won’t do any good if you do. Companies are often hell holes precisely because they seem to be completely immune to good advice.

Employers are also quick to declare that certain employees have a bad attitude – especially former employees. If you leave on bad terms you’ll simply justify the claim once your gone. And that won’t fix anything in the company that you’re leaving.

In fact, if you leave on bad terms the employer is more likely to assume that you’re part of the problem, and they’ll be happy to be rid of you. Any criticism you level against the company – no matter how legitimate – is likely to be completely ignored.

It’s much better to leave an employer on good terms, that way the company may solicit constructive criticism from you that might actually improve circumstances for your soon-to-be former coworkers. If they don’t, it’s no longer your problem.

How about you all? Have you ever had a job in the past that was so bad that you felt that you couldn’t leave on cordial terms? How did you handle it? Was there any negative fallout after the fact?

Share your experiences by commenting below! 

***Photo courtesy of https://www.flickr.com/photos/24051087@N08/2281414800/sizes/n/