Facing Financial Fears

Facing Financial Fears

I’ve talked about my career change and the positive aspects of working with preschoolers, but I have yet to dive into the most challenging part of making the shift away from a steady 9-5 job: the financial side. Though I’ve covered plenty of personal topics on this blog, something about money feels even more personal. It seems as though money is quite a taboo topic, something we don’t often chat about with friends. We’ll talk about relationships without hesitation, but somehow bringing up money seems too difficult. There’s an element of embarrassment or fear of failure that goes along with finances that is similar, but still distinctly unique, from our feelings about dating or other common topics. I feel scared writing this blog post, but I know it’s a topic I need to talk about more. So here I go!

When I made the leap from working at a large, corporate company, to working at a small, fairly new preschool, I knew the risk I was taking financially. But I don’t think I understood, or wanted to understand, the full extent of what my choice meant. It’s no secret teachers don’t earn as much money as other fields, and I soon learned “childcare workers”, as I’m defined in the preschool world, earn even less than “school-age” educators (kindergarten through high school teachers). To put it candidly — and this makes me so scared to write for some reason, I think I’m afraid of looking weak but I’m saying it anyway— it’s nearly impossible to make a living as a preschool teacher. All of the teachers I work with have multiple side-jobs.

All that is to say, I took a huge financial risk to become a preschool teacher. For the past few months as I adjusted to my new job, I adapted an attitude of avoidance, thinking “it will all work out” in regard to my finances, without developing any sort of plan. My monthly income was cut drastically, and I was scared to confront that reality. I felt intense anxiety whenever I thought about my finances, and my coping mechanism was to just ignore, ignore, ignore. Like a monster under the bed, I was afraid of what I’d find hidden in the dark if I took the time to really examine my newfound financial situation. I knew deep down I’d need to put in a lot of work to figure out how to earn more money and put together a budget, and it made me feel exhausted thinking about it. So I chose a route of avoidance.

With the exception of a few small changes, I continued spending in the same manner I had when I was at my previous job. I saw the number in my checking account decreasing steadily, but I didn’t want to deal with what that meant. I was stubbornly hoping I could continue living the same way I had before, that nothing needed to change, and magically things would all work out. Ignore, ignore, ignore.

Finally, slowly, I came to terms with the fact that I needed to stop this denial and start being real with myself. I needed to find alternative forms of income, and I needed to cut back on my expenses each month. Nothing was going to magically work out if I didn’t put in the work myself. I knew I needed a wake-up call, so I made a to-do list and started crossing things off:

  • I found a freelance job writing resumes and cover letters for clients.
  • I started putting feelers out and working more irregular gigs like babysitting, petsitting, and social media management.
  • I took a look at exactly how much I’m earning versus how much I’m spending each month, identifying how much extra money I need per month and areas I can cut back on spending.
  • I started opening up to friends and family about this topic.

The funny thing about avoidance is we know deep down it’s not going to help. Ignoring my finances didn’t magically give me more money, or assuage my anxieties. I still had a nagging voice in my head saying “You need to confront this. You can’t keep this up forever, Shelly!” My savings were still depleting. Those months I spent not paying attention to my spending, blindly hoping I was making enough money to support for my spending habits, I was just prolonging the inevitable. I eventually had to come back to reality and put in the work to get on the right track.

I was right that the work I needed to put in would be tiring. I don’t have everything figured out yet. I still have more work to do to feel confident in my financial situation. I still have the same anxiety about money, and the same embarrassment around talking about it. I don’t know if any of that will ever change, but I know one thing has changed: I’m facing my fears rather than avoiding. I’m taking action rather than remaining passive. I’m talking about this topic rather than bottling it all up. Leaving the world of avoidance and entering the world of action may still bring its fair share of exhaustion and anxiety, but it has also made me feel empowered and given me hope. It may take a while, but I know everything will work out, because I’m finally doing the work.

Do you have fears around money? Do you feel embarrassed or scared or anxious to talk about it? Have you ever made a career change and had to reevaluate your income? Let’s talk about it! I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Handling Stress

Handling Stress

This week has been extremely busy and stressful. One of my coworkers that I work closely with is out on “paternity leave” since his wife just had a baby, so I have gotten some added responsibilities while he’s gone. Some of the work was expected, but some was quite unexpected. I’ve honestly been really proud of how I’ve handled the week so far, so I thought I’d use today’s blog to share what I have been doing this week to help control my stress.

Make To-Do Lists

I’ve always been a fan of writing lists, as I mentioned in this blog, and I especially recommend this if you’re having a busy or stressful week. It really helps to have something visual to reference when prioritizing your workload. There isn’t much in this world that’s more satisfying to me than crossing something off a list!

Ask For Help

Asking for help, or asking questions, is something I’ve learned to be better at over the years. I used to be afraid of asking for help, and always wanted to try to figure everything out on my own. However, I’ve definitely learned that it’s better to ask if you’re unsure about something. It’s also not a bad thing to ask for some support on something. For example, with my added responsibilities this week, I’ve had trouble keeping up with my normal everyday work. To remedy this, I started delegating work to our interns. They are always happy to help, and it is such a relief when they’re able to take things off my plate for me.

Think of the Future

I’ve found myself thinking “what would Future Shelly want you to do right now?” a lot this week. For example, I went in early to work yesterday, and stayed late today to knock off some of my to-do’s, simply because I knew I would thank myself later. Since I work a salary job, it’s hard to feel motivated to put in extra hours, as I won’t be paid extra. However, I had a lightbulb moment where I realized it’s better to get things over with today as opposed to putting it off. And I have to say, I think Future Shelly will be quite happy I put in the extra hours.

Make a Playlist

I’m sure I’m not the only person who finds music to be very soothing and therapeutic. I like to write down songs I hear on the radio and then make big Spotify playlists of all the new music I find. This week I’ve enjoyed blasting my playlist “Current Faves” on the way to work, on the way home from work, and even a few times at work. I’m one of those people who doesn’t have a problem with concentrating with music playing, and in fact I find it calms me and helps me focus at times. It also is always sure to put me in a good mood. As a matter of fact, I’m listening to my new playlist right now!

 

I hope you enjoyed reading my secrets to handling stress! Can you relate to any of these? Are there tricks you use to relieve stress that I didn’t mention? Let me know in the comments!

New Job: Tips for Success

Hey everyone! If you saw my Exciting Life Update post you’ll know that I just started my first ever full-time job! I have been working there for three weeks now and I am loving it so far. Going into it I was a little nervous just because I had never worked 40 hours a week before and I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. But now that I have three weeks under my belt I feel a lot more comfortable, and I figured some of you might benefit from hearing my advice about making the first few weeks of a new job the best they can be! So here are my three tips for success at a new job.

Tip #1: Go above and beyond

I think that when you are new at a job it’s good to always be thinking of extra things you can do to help out. Don’t just settle for doing the bare minimum, think about how you could add to what you’ve been assigned to do in order to make your supervisor’s job easier. Doing this will show your coworkers that you are serious about your job, and prove to them that hiring you was a great decision.

Tip #2: Share your opinions

It’s easy to think that because you’re the newbie you shouldn’t share your thoughts or opinions on things yet, but that is definitely not true. They hired you for a reason, and it’s never too early to share ideas that you have or to be honest about an idea someone else has that maybe you don’t quite agree with. It shows that you’re capable of bringing new perspectives to the table, which is very valuable for any organization.

Tip #3: Stay organized

It can be easy to feel overwhelmed or to forget to do little things when you’re first starting out in a new environment, but overlooking tasks is a big don’t, especially in your first few weeks. To stay on top of everything I like to hand write to-do lists and cross off items when they are complete. Not only does it help me to visualize everything that needs to be done, it also feels oddly rewarding to physically cross something off of a list when you have accomplished it. If you work on a Mac I would also suggest typing in “reminders” on your computer that will send a notification when you need to do something. This is helpful if there are time-sensitive projects you need to finish, or if you are afraid you will forget something a few weeks from now.

 

I hope these tips were helpful to you, whether you are starting out in a new job like me, or just wondering what you should be thinking about when the time comes to start  job. Comment below to let me know your tips for success at a new job!

Exciting Life Update!

Exciting Life Update!

I have some great news to share with everyone! For those of you who have read this blog post from a few months back, you know that I have been searching for a full time job since my graduation in May, and was beginning to feel a bit defeated that I hadn’t gotten one yet. Well….drumroll please…I GOT A JOB!

So here’s how it happened: a few weeks ago a woman from a social media marketing agency that I interned for over the summer of 2013 emailed me to let me know they had a job opening, and wondering if I would like to meet for coffee to catch up and discuss the opportunity. Of course I said yes! It seemed like a great position and I had always raved about the agency to my friends and family and frequently referred to my experience there as “my favorite internship I’ve ever had” (I’ve had four total). We met and discussed the position, what I’ve been up to since we last spoke, and what I’m looking for in a job.

socialmedia

I felt the conversation went well, but was slightly worried I didn’t have quite enough  experience for the job. Still, I was optimistic and couldn’t help daydreaming about what a great time I would have working there again. Flash forward to this past Friday, I get an email from the woman I had met with and she tells me they are offering me a position! I couldn’t believe my eyes! I got so used to hearing “no” that I almost couldn’t believe it when I finally got a “yes”, which is a little bit sad but anyone who has ever gone through the struggle of job hunting will relate I’m sure.

I am still smiling about it and can’t wait to get started on Monday! I’m excited to meet the new faces and say hi to the old ones, I’m excited to have a routine and schedule every day, I’m excited to learn new skills and use old ones, and mostly I’m excited to be a part of a team! I love the feeling of being part of a community, whether the community is my theater friends in high school, my sorority sisters, or now my coworkers!

The word ‘community’ is also relevant because it will be in my job title! I will be a Community Manager, which includes tasks like creating content for social media platforms, analyzing the engagement of audiences on the platforms, responding to customers online, and even writing blog articles! For anyone who knows me, all of this is right up my alley and is similar to what I have done at most of my internships.

communitymanager

Thanks so much to everyone who wrote kind words on my blog post about not having a job. I hope this post brings hope to anyone out there who is still looking. Your perfect job will present itself before you know it, and all of the waiting will be worth it! If you’d like to keep up to date on my daily life and hear how my new job is going, follow my blog and follow me on social media! Since I’ll be working at a social media agency, I will have no choice but to keep up my personal accounts.

Twitter and Instagram: @shellycrossland