Watching Others Make the Financial Mistakes You’ve Made

Jane making notesI have a friend, Jane, who is in her late 20s.  Jane is working at a job full-time, though she is not earning that much.  She was offered a new position in the same company and would earn $10,000 more, but that job would require her to take on additional duties, which she’s not comfortable with.

Jane lives in an apartment that caters to college students, so she has numerous problems with neighbours passed out outside (true story!) and selling drugs on the apartment premises.  She wants to move but can’t afford to.  Jane believes the only other option is to move back in with her parents, which she really doesn’t want to do.

Jane feels her situation is hopeless and doesn’t see a way out.

I see plenty of ways out for her, but since she didn’t ask my opinion and isn’t receptive to most people’s suggestions, I keep quiet.

See, I’ve been in Jane’s position before.  I’ve been dirt broke, even beyond dirt broke.  I’ve had no money and had credit card and student loan bills.  I remember feeling like my situation was hopeless, but I took matters into my own hands and lived a life most people thought was a little extreme.  I found places to cut corners every where I could.

If I were Jane, I would:

1.  Get a side job.

Jane has a lot of free time after work hours and on the weekends that she spends hanging out with friends.  I get that she has a stressful job and needs to relax, but she also needs to make some extra money to get out of her situation.  Thanks to the Internet, there are plenty of things she can do at home working online to bring in extra cash.

2.  Go back to school.

Jane has a bachelor’s degree, but it’s in history.  Let’s be honest, with just a B.A. in history, there’s not much you can do.   Jane should take a class or two in a new field that would make her more money.  She could be earning money faster if she went to a community college and earned a two-year degree in something like electronics or another field where she could start working right away.  She’d probably even be able to use some of the classes from her B.A. to meet her course requirements for the new degree. She could even choose to take a degree program online and end up with some skills that will make her highly employable. Perhaps one of the top degrees that she could attain is the Master of Arts in Economics from online. Since she already has her Bachelor of Arts, she would have some of the prerequisite courses already complete, making the transition easier. By finishing this degree, she would become a recognized economist and could work for government agencies, financial institutions, and multilateral organization all over the country. By earning this degree, she would be in demand and would immediately see her earning power increase.

3.  Get frugal.

There are lots of little things Jane can do to stretch her money further.  Right now she buys convenience foods instead of making her own from scratch.  If she learned how to cook frugal meals from scratch, she could save at least $100 a month on groceries.  There are plenty of other small things she could do, too, like making her own liquid hand soap and her own laundry detergent that don’t take much time but could save her money.

4.  Ditch the electronics.

Jane has a passion for her iPhone, but she has to pay nearly $40 a month to maintain it.  I’d suggest she ditch the iPhone for now, until she’s in a better financial position.

Have you watched someone struggle financially?  What suggestions would you give that person to improve their financial situation?

Posted in: Minimalism and Frugality

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