Note: This article was written by one of our Your Money Line experts. We hope you enjoy it!
About a year ago I found myself in a position to take on a full time and part time job. I had just spent a few months unemployed due to a cross country move. As life tends to, several financial blows struck our household at once. We were behind financially and the opportunity to replenish our emergency fund quickly was a huge blessing. I took both job offers and went from working 0 hours a week to a minimum of 55. For a few months it was great! We were able to replenish our emergency fund, save for a car we desperately needed, and most importantly we were rebuilding our financial confidence. But, as people tend to do, I started to burn out.
I was burning the candle at both ends. My full time job involved a lot of public speaking. But more than that, the work was emotionally taxing. I began to neglect housework, ignore my health and fitness, and my general attitude was declining. I liked one job more than the other, but unfortunately for me, it was the part time gig. Never in my life have I quit anything and I wasn’t about to quit a full time job in my career field. So I pushed on for a few more months. Then, as fate would have it, just as I was ready to force myself out of my part time job, my boss offered me a full time position. I put in my two weeks and transitioned to one full time job. Please learn from me and create a plan before you start.
I was so excited to work after a stint of unemployment that I didn’t have a plan for righting our financial path. What I should have done before accepting both offers was take an inventory of where we stood and what goals we wanted to achieve with my income. Since we had just moved we had to make some adjustments in our budget for things like our new rent obligation and a longer commute with higher gas prices. I also needed to set some savings goals.
It is not reasonable to expect a person to work more than full time forever. Everyone has a different breaking point. I know plenty of people who have spent the majority of their life working more than a standard 40-hour week. But, everyone will burn out eventually. If you’re in a position where you need to earn some extra cash, keep the funds separate. In fact, I would strongly encourage you to put this income in a completely separate checking account. Keeping these funds separate will ensure they are only used for their intended purpose. It will be much more difficult to cease the extra work if you’ve become reliant on this income. This income shouldn’t be used to determine things like how much house you can afford or whether you can take on a second or higher car payment.
If you’re using the income to build your savings map out your goals. How much do you want to save? How much will this income allow you to save? How many months will it take you to get there? If you have an end and some interim goals, working more than you’re accustomed will be easier. Apply this same logic if you have a debt payoff goal. Maybe you want to use this income to pay off a high balance credit card? Maybe you have outstanding student loans? Determine how much money you’ll bring home and then map your road to debt relief.
Finally, if you’re not already, start budgeting. I know it seems remedial. I know it can feel trivial. But, if you’re in a position where you need a second income it’s often because at some point you were spending more than you were earning. If you aren’t budgeting and making your financial health a priority you’ll likely find yourself exactly where you are now. Budgeting will bring monthly awareness to the progression toward your goals. In my experience people tend to lean on money to fix their behavior. Unfortunately, as noted American poet Christopher Wallace observed, our reality is often, “More money, more problems”.