A few years ago, I interviewed for my almost-dream job. The position was for a “Publishing Coordinator” in a large biotech company. The job involved preparing the weekly newsletter, writing articles, and research new findings and events in science. Awesome, right?
I’m pretty good at interviews. I’m even better when I really want the job. And during this interview, I really felt like the job was mine. I had excellent rapport with the interviewer, I was breezing through the questions, and I just felt good about the whole thing.
Then she asked me what my salary was at my current position.
I demurred, saying that the two jobs were unrelated, and I would be more interested in discussing fair compensation for the job I was interviewing for, rather than the job I had currently. (PS – Never tell an interviewer what you make until after they tell you what they want to pay you!)
“Fair enough,” she said. “Just so that you’re aware, we’re targeting this position as $28,000 to $30,000 to start.”
I had expected that the job would pay less than my then-current job in research, but this was A LOT less. And at the time, I was living in an apartment on my own for about $1000 a month plus utilities, paying student loans of $450 a month, and had various other bills and debts that ate up my paycheque. A few thousand less, I could make things work. But for 28k… I could not afford to take the job.
If I had graduated university with a better financial situation, I could have taken that job in a heartbeat. It wouldn’t have have mattered that I was taking a pay cut, because I would not need half of my paycheques to pay my debts.
If I had been more responsible and realistic as a young adult, I would have been living with roommates instead of living on my own throughout university. My rent and utilities wouldn’t have taken up almost an entire paycheque. Again, I could have taken the job easily.
Debt and expenses hold you back. They prevent you from seizing opportunities – whether those opportunities be for travel, for new jobs, or new careers. It took another year or two to get my finances in order, but of course, by then it was too late for that job.
Now, my living expenses – housing, bills, phone, internet and food take up only $900. Only a few years ago, I paid $900 per month for rent alone! If I cut out features on my phone and internet, my monthly expenses drop to about $850. By reducing my monthly expenses, I open up options for myself. I don’t have to work the high paying job. I could take a lower paying job . I could go back to school without incurring debt (as I ended up doing). I could travel more since I now need to work less.
Not being able to take that job was one of my biggest regrets – I will not make the same mistake again.