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42, laid off, unsure about next steps...
Old 09-13-2011, 02:02 PM   #1
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42, laid off, unsure about next steps...

Hello!

I just joined this forum today.

I'm 42, single, no kids. I was laid off from my full time job February 2011.

My mortgage was paid off earlier this year with a small inheritance.

I have no car payment, since my car was paid off long ago (but it does have 100K miles on it).

I was only making around $11.75 per hour in my job in an office. It was a small company, not much room to grow, so I sort of topped out below $12 per hour anyway.

I rolled over my 401k into an IRA a few months ago. There's only about $40K in it, nothing I can live on.

Still, my electric bill is under $30 a month, my gas bill is (currently) under $80 a month, and my water bill is (usually) under $40 a month. My health insurance is a private plan I got through a Dave Ramsey ELP. It doesn't have any preventive care or other stuff tacked onto it and it's a very high deductible, but it's only costing me $47 a month. My phone is a cheap-o prepaid phone and I buy around $60 of minutes and service time every couple of months or so.

I'm currently drawing unemployment benefits, taking a couple of graduate level classes (I have an MA in Spanish and an old teaching certificate I was able to get reissued so I'm going for a Rank 1 certification in Library Media). I'm hoping to land a part time job at the local public library. I apply for every job they post, and they post a new job opening maybe once or twice every week or so. Fingers crossed.

At this point, I don't know if I should keep thinking of myself as "underemployed" or if that is too depressing and I should just call myself "semi-retired" and try to enjoy it?

At what point would I be financially ready to be "semi-retired"? Should I try to keep working full time (assuming I can find a full time job) or just F**** It, Retire Early?




thanks,

Vicki
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Old 09-13-2011, 02:17 PM   #2
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If you only have 40k in assets plus the house, are a long way from SS, probably do not have a pension, I would say you should expect to keep working for the forseeable future.

As for considering yourself underemployed or whatever label the media likes this week, I think its not important. I can tell you from personal experience that when I went from a high powered, extremely lucrative job that was the pinnacle of what I could do in my profession to a ho-hum but steady job that is frankly a bit beneath me, I was a lot happier and less stressed. What is important to you and what do you want out of life? If you can find a way to get that, who cares what the professional status is and what the neighbors/parents/classmates think?
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Old 09-13-2011, 02:23 PM   #3
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+1 to Brewer, Vicki. Really try as hard as you can to get another job. If it is not perfect, at least you are paying your bills, perhaps saving a little but at least not falling into a hole.

Keep your resume good, and keep looking to get a long term attractive position, even after you have snagged a job.

Ha
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Old 09-13-2011, 02:25 PM   #4
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Welcome to the forum, Vicki.

Being unemployed, or underemployed, is almost a "normal" situation these days. You are most definitely not alone.

Continue to apply for jobs you feel you can do well, and when you get one, do the best you can while waiting for better opportunities to appear.

In your case, your home is paid for, so that eliminates one potential problem - as long as you can afford the taxes and maintenance, you could stay there indefinitely. And taxes / maintenance will always be less than rent.

You have to continue to build up your assets, as at your age you should be in the accumulation phase. Unexpected problems and expenses will always arise - especially in the health area as we all grow older.

Here's wishing you well, and that you'll get a good job soon.
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Old 09-13-2011, 02:25 PM   #5
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Hi Vicki, welcome.

You can call yourself whatever you want. "Semi-retirement" is a pretty vague concept anyways. But I think you shouldn't give up on full time work just yet. You are still young and your financial resources are limited.
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Old 09-13-2011, 02:47 PM   #6
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@ha - I'm not falling into a hole. My unemployment benefits are around $350 per week, so I'm able to save a little. Of course, they won't last forever, but I haven't had to file my first extension yet. I'm not having any problems paying the bills.

If I had to, as a last resort, I could take some god-awful $10/hour job in a call center. But, it would be a dead end job just like the last one. I spent 12 years working full time in that place, and topped out at under $12 an hour. Frankly, I don't see the point of doing that again. It feels like a trap.

@brewer - Yes, that's kind of the way I see it! I spent 12 years not in a high-powered job, but in a job I didn't particularly like, and with very few vacation days off a year, and I was so unhappy... Right now, I feel like I could be really happy with just 2 part time jobs doing things I enjoy, around people I enjoy. The last place I worked, they really pitted different departments against each other, there was a TON of gossip and back-stabbing. The full time employees bore the brunt of that, but the part timers were basically untouched. It seems to me, I would make about the same amount of money with 2 part time jobs, even if the benefits were less, and the level of personal commitment would be lower, the amount of gossip I would be subjected to would be less, and the flexibility in hours and taking time off to look after my (aging) parents would be really super-nice.

I don't have any real hope of finding a full time job that was any better than the one I just left. There are few professional jobs in the city where I live, and my background was in education, not engineering or law or anything really highly-paid anyway.

If I could get a part time job at the library it might eventually lead to a full time position. In addition, the classes I'm taking in library science should lead to school librarian certification. Although I bitterly hated teaching high school Spanish, being a school librarian might not be so very bad.

As a part time avocation, I'm interested in hypnotherapy. I took a free hypnotherapy course online through HMI a couple of years ago, but I never got around to getting business cards printed up or doing any real networking. I'd like to have about 4 or 5 clients a week, billing $100 per hour, in 90 minute sessions. The city where I live has a population of just under 300K, but most people here have at least a BA degree, so it's an educated population, might be a good place to grow a hypnotherapy business. There are also tons of smokers in my state, who might use my services to help them quit smoking. It's an idea I've been toying with for a while...

Vicki
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Old 09-13-2011, 02:49 PM   #7
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Welome to the board.

Look at some of the retirement calculators that are on line such as FIRE CALCULATOR.

Or a simple way to test is detrmine how much of a nest egg one would need is take annual total expenses and multiply by 25 as to how much one one needs saved.
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Old 09-13-2011, 04:20 PM   #8
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Sounds to me that two part time jobs would mean twice as much gossip as everybody would want to catch you up on the days or hours you were there...


I would also be a bit wary on applying for any job posted.... it makes you look like you do not know what you want to do.... when I worked at a mega, and our dept posted any job.... we knew this one guy was going to post for it... no matter what it was... he was desperate to get out of where he was and everybody knew it... he never had a chance....


Try to talk to the head of the library or someone up in the ranks to see what they want in their employees... and get your name in front of them... show them that you can do what they want and are willing to do the necessary steps to get there....

good luck....
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Old 09-13-2011, 04:26 PM   #9
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@Texas Proud - where I worked last, the part timers weren't really in the loop - there was a very solid "clique" of 3 or 4 full time ladies who gossiped without end. They ignored the part time employees, completely, as if they weren't even there. (Which sounds good to me!). It was a mostly-female department. I'm guessing you're not a girl, or you mostly work with men...

I will try not to apply for everything. I am drawing unemployment, so I'm required to apply for at least 1 new job each week. I think I also made it clear in my cover letter that I'm a library media graduate student, and I just want to start somewhere, I don't care where, just wherever they could use me. I'm not "desperate" to get out of where I am, I just need some library work experience to go along with this degree.

What is a "mega"? Mega-church? mega-bookstore? LOL

Vicki
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Old 09-13-2011, 04:43 PM   #10
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I am drawing unemployment, so I'm required to apply for at least 1 new job each week.

Vicki
You can apply for astrophysicist jobs and fulfill that requirement. Don't blow it with your main target.
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Old 09-13-2011, 05:03 PM   #11
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Vicki,

People on the forum often refer to very large companies as "mega-corps." Most folks don't want to name exactly where they work, and "mega-corps" could be anything big, yet non-governmental - e.g. a defense contractor, an insurance company, or Microsoft.

Good luck in your job search - I empathize with your dislike of office gossip and desire to keep as much stress out of your life as possible. Keep us posted.

Amethyst

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What is a "mega"? Mega-church? mega-bookstore? LOL

Vicki
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Old 09-13-2011, 06:03 PM   #12
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You can apply for astrophysicist jobs and fulfill that requirement. Don't blow it with your main target.

Very good point. I will start applying to the Library of Congress and the CIA, going forward.
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Old 09-13-2011, 07:03 PM   #13
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You may have a skill in demand if you are proficient in Spanish (you mention you have an MA in this) You might try contacting school districts, hospitals, clinics, and city and social services to see if you can contract as an interpreter .
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Old 09-13-2011, 07:26 PM   #14
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You may have a skill in demand if you are proficient in Spanish (you mention you have an MA in this) You might try contacting school districts, hospitals, clinics, and city and social services to see if you can contract as an interpreter .
+ 1 on this idea.
You did say that you didn't enjoy teaching Spanish in HS, but how about small group lessons or at a tech school?
I also have a lot of interest in hypnotherapy though I've not had any formal training. I quit smoking that way and study/ use self hypnosis often.
If you are good enough, and can cobble together a decent presentation, you probably could make something of that. Just be certain to keep it really professional, you know, white coats and all..
Lastly, please do your best to keep that IRA for its intended purpose. Regardless of what happens in the short run, you will need that and much more in the long run, and the best retirement money is that which has a long time to simmer on the "compounding burner," if you know what I mean.
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Old 09-13-2011, 07:27 PM   #15
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Vicki,

Unemployment is not steady income. You sound like most us where we can live on modest amount. Once you can set up to draw steady income with inflation factored in, you can retire or semi-retire IMO.

I think you need to ask yourself what you want to do. If you want a teaching career, you may have to move to larger city. But you just want a job for income and live where you are, then get a job with income and be happy. It's your life and no one can say how to live your life. You sound like a happy camper with your current situation so take full advantage of your unemployment and call yourself retired from one job (without pension and benefits) but looking for second career for second retirement. Much like retire military or cops or fire fighter who retires and take a break for a year or two and start a second career. My cousin who retired from FDNY and don't have to get a second career with 100K+/year pension but he got a second career as music teacher for a private school which pay much less than the public school. It's not for the money but to do what he loves.

For you, I hope your second career is for both love and money. Best wishes.
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Old 09-13-2011, 07:43 PM   #16
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Hi Vicki,

Welcome! It is probably best just to keep looking for work. You will have plenty of time to figure out a long term plan once you have an income. Have you considered being a substitute teacher or doing tutoring seeing that you have a teaching certificate.

Best of luck!
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Old 09-13-2011, 07:53 PM   #17
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@bizlady and JPatrick - Finding translation work and/or part time teaching gigs isn't that hard to do. It's hard to make a living doing it, and it's a lot more stressful than library work.

With lesson prep time and grading papers, and creating PowerPoint presentations etc etc, teaching works out to below minimum wage, after you factor in all the other stuff you do to crank out an exciting lesson a day, for each class. I never worked less than 80 hours a week the year I taught high school Spanish, in 1996-1997. I was paid under $21K. Maybe I should have been lazier! LOL I can't stand teaching off the cuff, totally unprepared. I like to feel that I give it my best. Financially, I just couldn't justify working that many hours for such low pay, and the kids were just awful. I had NO LIFE outside of work, and it was simply unsustainable as a long term career/lifestyle choice.

People who have asked me to translate stuff for them in the past expected me to work for free. They were totally surprised when I brought up "my rates". LOL It's not something people are really willing to pay for. Most people are accustomed to being billed by the hour for professional services from attorneys and therapists, stuff like that, which is why I'm considering finishing up my hypnotherapy training so I can actually get paid decently to do something interesting, fulfilling and that I will enjoy.

I spent just as many years working on my Spanish degrees (BA and MA) as any lawyer or psychologist spends on their graduate work, but I can't bill $100 an hour to translate for people. They just won't pay it. And, I won't do that kind of work for minimum wage. I will shelve books in a public library for minimum wage, but I won't do what I consider professional level academic work for minimum wage. It isn't worth it to me.

@Sandhog - I never *said* unemployment was steady income. I also didn't say I wanted to be a teacher, nor did I say that teaching jobs were hard to find in my city. They are actually easy to get around here, especially for certified foreign language teachers. I could fall right into a Spanish teaching job immediately -- if I didn't completely loathe it so much!

I enjoyed working in a library part time when I was a college student. It was the last job I remember really liking a lot. So, now that I'm unemployed (and I just want to do something that doesn't suck for a change) I decided to pursue my passion for books and I'm currently in grad school working on a library media degree. My passion for library work is the reason why I want a part time library job right now, and not a full or part time "anything else", because anything less would be completely irrelevant to my career goals at this time.

I basically started the thread because I just didn't understand the distinction between "underemployed" and "semi-retired". I'm guessing it's "underemployment" if you're miserable working part time, but it's "semi-retirement" if you're happy.


Vicki
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Old 09-13-2011, 08:00 PM   #18
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I apologized Vicki. I miss read your post. I'm very tired from working two jobs to catch up on my retirement and was multi-tasking while reading your post.

You seemed to know what you want so I say go for it!
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Old 09-13-2011, 08:07 PM   #19
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Welcome to the boards, Vicki. I think you're "underemployed" .

I would use your Spanish degrees to parlay your in-progress school library media center degree into a job in a school media center--I would think the combo would give you the hiring edge in any school that has a diverse student population.

Then you will be "happily employed"! Good luck.
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Old 09-13-2011, 08:12 PM   #20
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I'm currently in grad school working on a library media degree.
Just curious, if all you have for savings is $40K tucked away in a retirement account and unemployment benefits are your only income, how are you paying for grad school?
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