I changed careers last year. This is what happened to my finances

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After more than a decade working on-site for non-profit museums, I decided I needed a change last year and have since started working remotely as a writer and editor of contents. There’s been a lot of news about people like me, a millennial who quit her job in the wake of a pandemic that changed the lives of almost everyone on Earth. However, I haven’t seen many articles about the financial implications for us. After a year, I think it’s time to think about my personal finances.

Higher utility bills…but higher productivity

When I made this change, I went from working on-site 100% of the time (except for a few months in spring and summer 2020, like many Americans in office jobs) to working remotely 100% of the time . I didn’t used to worry about keeping my home comfortable for humans all the time. My cats have fur coats and enough comfortable beds and blankets that they can generally be comfortable even if it is cooler in our house on a cold winter day. Now I spend more on my utility bills, because I have to maintain a comfortable temperature in my living and working space all day long. Fortunately, my home office sees the fewest temperature fluctuations of any room in my house.

However, my productivity has skyrocketed since I started working from home. It’s always quiet, and I can often easily reach the deeper headspace needed for researching, writing, and editing. And because my work is always close at hand, it’s easy for me to work more (and earn more) than before. I love my job, so I see that as a good thing!

Move less often… and more often

My old career was very geolocated, to my personal and financial detriment: if I wanted a new job, I had to move. I’ve moved 10 times in just 10 years. Now I no longer have to worry about being close to my employer. And as a result, I’ve signed up to stay in my current tenancy for at least one more year, and I can stay even longer than that.

Although I don’t move as often as I used to, I’m starting to move my body more because I don’t have a commute anymore. I also have more “me time” during the day due to the flexible nature of my job. I like to take long walks and live in a lovely pedestrian area. I try to go out for a walk at least once a day (sometimes twice!). I listen to music or a podcast, and it’s one of the best things I can do for my physical and mental health.

Yes to technology… no to the wardrobe

Thanks for getting a better manage my finances this year I’m a much savvier shopper than before, and the things I spend money on have changed. I hadn’t owned a desktop computer in 10 years, but earlier this year I bought a high-end one. This computer can handle anything I throw at it, and I got a bargain buying it factory refurbished. It also led to greater productivity than I could have ever achieved working on a laptop with a small screen, which was all I needed as a personal computer before working from home.

When I worked in museums, I had to devote a good part of my income to financing the wardrobe that I needed for work. Every day I could have built exhibits, taught student interns, taken a guided tour, given a public presentation, or even met with big-name donors or local government officials. So I always had to watch the game. Now I keep it simple and rely on my existing wardrobe.

Plan for the future…and mourn the past

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed a lot for a lot of people, and I’m no exception. It pushed me to change careers, and this career change opened financial doors for me that were locked and sometimes even closed before. I am hoping to buy a house in a few years, and after I finish paying off my debt, I can save the money to do it. My credit score is the highest it’s ever been, and I hope to take it even higher. I do not have Pension saving, and that’s another goal I’ll be working towards starting next year. I’ve never made enough money to not live paycheck to paycheck, and I’m finally in a place where I can get past this stressful lifestyle.

This past year hasn’t been all sunshine and roses, and I sometimes miss my old job. But I don’t regret never having enough money to plan for the future and always feeling like I’m hanging on the edge of a financial cliff. Those of us who participated in the “Great Resignation” were all looking for the same things: greater freedom, greater happiness, and greater financial security. I’m happy to report that so far I’ve been successful in all three.

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Jeanetta J. Stewart