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The transparency of the debt free community is incredible and really helps me to relate to each individual who is currently making their way through a mountain of loans and credit cards at the same time as myself. As such I want to be completely open about this whole journey. A big part of that is my income. In particular, I want to discuss the impact quitting my job had on my debt and where I am now.
My intention isn’t to send you a word of warning or anything, I just love hearing about what other people do for a living and their career progression. If you do take something away from it, even better. It’s a long one so grab a cuppa!
The Whole Story
It does make me nervous to talk about the impact quitting my job had on my debt because not only was it a very personal decision, but it was one that no-one else supported.
Back in 2015 I graduated from university with a masters degree in Advanced Architectural Studies having studied for six years and spent some of that time working on placement. The week I was due to hand in my masters dissertation I had my first job interview and I was successful. Work started the following Wednesday, the day after hand in. I had done it, I had achieved the dream of securing a great job!
Then the distractions started to happen. I’d be half way through a morning of work and find myself looking at interior design courses and “how to start your own business”. I didn’t dislike my job, my but I wasn’t as passionate about it as I had hoped. Just two months into my first job my boss called me into his office. I was doing a great job, but he needed someone with more experience he told me. The first thing that hit me was panic; I had just bought a new (to me) car with my first credit card for this job and now after two months I had been let go. I packed up my stuff, left and sat in my car crying on the phone to my mum. It wasn’t the best start.
The next couple of days were spent frantically searching job sites. I came across one that had already expired, but the listing looked interesting and the office would be really handy for me to get to. I sent off a quick email and crossed my fingers. A couple of hours later I received a reply. “Hi Emma, thanks for your email. I’ve actually already hired someone for the role but I love your portfolio. Would you be able to come in for a quick chat?”. YES, yes I would. I booked my meeting for the next day.
They loved my work so much they offered me the job anyway! Again, very quickly after, I started working and things were going really well. I preferred this office as it happened, so it turned out to be a positive changes. My boss was great and the work was more interesting. Oddly, I was still distracted by other things. Courses like how to start a blog and how to build an Etsy business would be hidden on a tab behind my work. None the less, the work was good.
As the weeks progressed I continued to enjoy the work, however I would find my mind wandering constantly. Sitting in the same seat every day doing the same work was starting to get to me. Many of you will be thinking, yes Emma that tends to be how jobs work. I didn’t have an immature attitude to working, but I had started to recognise that I wasn’t keen on this set up.
At the three month mark I get called into the meeting room…here we go again. As it happened, it was really good news. My boss was offering me my contract. He wanted to make me a permanent employee! Incredible…so why don’t I want to sign it?! I thanked my boss and took the contract and then didn’t touch it for a week. When he chased me for it I made my excuses and did nothing. Then I asked to speak to him. I had taken the time to think about things, I said, and I was very grateful for the opportunity, but I wasn’t going to sign the contract. In fact I was going to be leaving. I didn’t want to be an architect.
My boss was stunned, my family and fiance were stunned when I spoke to them about it. Honestly I was a bit caught off guard myself that I had said it out loud. I had worked so hard for so long for, but it just wasn’t clicking.
For the next couple of weeks as I worked my notice I made an attempt at putting a plan together. Earning money was of course the main focus. In my head I had decided that I was going to sell wedding stationery. It would all be designed on Photoshop by myself and then sent to the printers before being posted to the customer. Wedding stationery was expensive so I could make good money quickly from this.
In reality, I was starting from scratch with no business experience and no understanding of marketing. The day I began my wedding stationery “business” I was so full of enthusiasm and motivation, but as the days went on and the money wasn’t coming in I started to crumble. My face always said everything is great, because I had convinced everyone that this was a good idea, but inside I knew it wasn’t working. I hadn’t prepared and that was plain to see.
Now this is a debt blog and I imagine that you can see where this is going. I mentioned before that I had just bought a car. That had to be paid for. I also had a phone and other expenses. They require money too. For a couple of months I was able to live off of the wages that I had earned in the architect’s office, but they began to dwindle.
The very worst day I can remember was waking up one morning with the intention of getting on the bus to travel twenty minutes away and having to ring my dad for a lift because I couldn’t pull enough change together. All I could find were a few 10p coins in my purse and some coppers from the sofa.
Still trying to fool myself that money would come in eventually I used my credit card here and there for little things. Then I got close to the limit…then I reached the limit…then I had to get a second card…and so you see where my debt reared it’s ugly head. From here the nasty snowball of payments and panic took hold and I knew something needed to change.
I feel like I have gone on for long enough now, and I have definitely shortened the story, but this gives you a good idea of the steps that I took to get me to where I am currently with my debt total. The positive I can take from it all is that I have learnt a lot. The naive and ignorant me from three years ago is now a very different person.
What do I actually do now?
In one of my first posts, Debt Payment Progress – The Starting Point, I briefly shared some insights into my work.
I now spend my days freelancing. In what you might ask? Architectural drawing of course. After taking several months to explore different avenues, some OK and some dreadful, it was pointed out to me that I do have a strong skill set as a result of my degree and the time I have spent in professional practice.
I stripped away all of the expectations of a big architecture firm and qualifying as an architect with a fancy title and looked at the straightforward options that I had. Freelancing was one of them. It would be possible for me to be my own boss, work from home and set my own hours. I could breathe again. Just like that, I felt like I had control back.
The journey from that point has been a tough one, I can’t lie, but it was the right one for me. I could definitely share more on the last 18 months in a future post if that would be of interest for anyone looking into freelancing as an option. Just let me know in the comments.
If you have reached the end, thank you so much for taking the time to read. It is a lengthy story but it is such a key part of my debt journey.