Has this happened to you?
Your life is running along a particular track just fine and then …
a child gets accepted to an Ivy-league college,
your parents need to move in with you,
you get divorced or a spouse passes away,
you get downsized at work,
your 401K becomes a 101K and there isn’t enough time to make up the difference…
Whatever the reason, things change … and with that change you need more money to move on to the next phase of your life.
In fact, if you’re like me, you’ve been though several of these scenarios over the years – sometimes one after the other.
If you don’t have an extra bank account to dig into, that means you need to earn more money. But how do you decide what to do?
Step 1 – Calm Down
Often, the first thing any of us do when we realize something big is going to change is to become anxious. The mythical lion has stalked out of the tall grass and is looking straight at us.
The more we think about what that change will mean, the worse the anxiety gets until we’re in full-blown panic.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Before the panic sets in, we can stop and try taking several long, deep breaths to calm the circus in our minds.
When we’re anxious or panicking, we don’t make our best decisions – and money issues have a way of raising anxiety faster than almost any other topic.
When we calm down, our minds open up to possibilities and we engage our creative sides.
So it’s best to face the next step when you have had a chance to relax, and start to look at your situation with a little curiosity about the future.
Step 2 – Take Inventory
Next, you’ll want to take inventory. Before you decide how to earn the money you want, you’ll need to understand what constraints you have and what skills and resources you can lean into.
Before you tackle the questions below, try to find a block of uninterrupted time. Get your favorite beverage, a pad and pen or a tablet to make notes, and find a spot that is comfortable and pleasant.
Chances are good that you have some lingering anxiety, so you’ll want to make this exercise as pleasant as possible.
Now, let’s get personal.
Question 1 – How much money do you need?
If you’ve never prepared a budget before, this may seem overwhelming; but it’s important that you know exactly what you have or will have in the way of income and what you have or will have by way of expenses.
Once you’ve determined these amounts, you’ll know how much extra money you need to bring in. So the more precise you can be, the better.
You don’t need a fancy budgeting tool, just a spreadsheet if you have one on your home computer.
You’ll also want to look at what assets you can dip into if you need to – things like savings accounts, investments, a home equity line of credit. While you won’t want to do that, of course – especially if you need to earn more money to retire - it’s good to know in case your investigation leads you to a decision to go back to school or you have a four alarm emergency on your hands.
Question 2 – How much time do you have before you need to earn this money?
If you’ve just been downsized from your job with very little to nothing as a severance payout, you may need to start earning money immediately. Your options are very different from someone who is planning for a child going off to college in two years.
Be realistic about how long you have.
Question 3 – Do you prefer to work outside or inside your home?
If you home school your children, have pre-school toddlers, or you’re the primary care-taker for an elderly parent, you may prefer to work inside the home.
If your children are school age, you may want to do something that will allow you to be home when the children get out of school or take a job in the evenings or on weekends when your spouse or other adults are around.
Question 4 – Do you want to work for someone else or be your own boss?
Many people get to a point where they no longer want to work for someone else. They want control over when and where they work, preferring to be their own boss.
However, being your own boss means you have all the responsibilities and problems of a business owner, including employee issues if you own a small business that requires help.
Being an entrepreneur isn’t for everyone, so think carefully about what you want to be – employee or entrepreneur, or working for yourself as a solopreneur.
Question 5 – Do you need benefits?
If your spouse has a benefits package, then you may not need healthcare, retirement planning etc. However, if you are suddenly on your own, these benefits may be important enough to change your mind about being your own boss – at least for the immediate future.
Question 6 – What are your specific skills?
Often we discount the skills that make us good at particular positions. We may think all moms are detail-oriented, reliable, self-motivated, have good people and communication skills; but in fact, we are all different.
Make an inventory of the skills you have, including any professional skills that you were trained and licensed for.
If you have problems coming up with a skillset, ask your friends what they think your skills are. You might be surprised at how many they see.
Question 7 – What resources can you lean into?
Look at the resources you have available to you. If you live near family, can you ask family members to pitch in to help you while you set up your new business or work that extra job? Can you ask friends to do your carpool duty or watch children at the end of the day if your work won’t allow you to be home when the school day ends? Who can you rely on and for what?
Also. to find a position, do you know anyone who can mentor you or introduce you to people who are looking for someone of your caliber?
Question 8 – How much time do you have to devote to earning more money?
This is a huge consideration. If you want to leave corporate America, but need to build your new business on the side until you are earning enough, it may take a great deal of time in the evenings and on weekends to get you where you want to be.
You’ll need to make sure everyone supports you in your decision since taking time away from family and friends to earn more money will affect everyone.
Question 9 – What do you value most?
This last question will take time to answer, but what you decide will affect what you go on to do.
If time with your family is the most important thing in the world to you, are you prepared to sacrifice time in the short term to perhaps have more time together down the road? Is your family in agreement?
If freedom to do what you want when you want is what you value most, are you prepared to deal with the uncertainties and hard work required to be your own boss?
If the satisfaction and recognition that comes from volunteering at your local place of worship, senior center or charity is important to you, are you willing to find that satisfaction and recognition from a job or business you create?
Dig deep to find your values and hold them up against each possibility for earning money. You want an opportunity that supports your values long term, not one that works against them.
Step 3 - Design Your Job
Now that you have answered the questions above, you’re ready to look at what you can do to earn more money. The number of things you can do is limited only by your imagination.
Join me next week when we’ll dive in to look at the possibilities.
Wishing you success,
PS If you find it hard to stay calm in the face of your life changes, try watching the interviews we are posting with Sara Register. And remember to pick up her free gift.
PPS If you find this information useful, please invite your friends to read these posts and comment.