Hi everyone! I can’t believe half the year has gone by already – it’s been busy here. I’ve been successful with 90% of my New Years resolutions over the past three months. Check out my resolutions below, I had everything from from making more time with friends and family; to developing better financial habits; to devising a plan to increase income:
Resolution 1: I want to put together a plan to increase my earning potential – PASS
The first part of that plan to start my Social Work degree (BSW) so I can earn more money.
But why Social Work? It’s not exactly reputed to be a high-earning field and there’s a high burn-out rate as well.
Okay, let’s see if I can break this down:
I am currently employed with a Provincial Health Region in Canada as an Outreach Worker. I have a B.A. in Psychology and have “topped out” my earning potential in this particular category at approximately $30.00/hour. Because the health region is subject to union collective agreements, there are some pretty strict rules about education, training requirements and pay increases.
What about job opportunity? I’ve been tracking career opportunities with the Provincial Health Region over the past year and for every three jobs that I am qualified to apply for with my Bachelors, there are seven that I can easily qualify for with a BSW. So there are about 70% more opportunities in Social Work than there are with my current degree – so the career potential is wide and varied.
What about salary? Well, for an intermediate Social Work position, my work experience plus education will give me a salary ranging from $35 to $47 per hour. After five years’ experience (which I currently have), I would be eligible for about $40/hr. There are still higher positions that pay more after more years of experience.
What about the cost of the education? That works out well as I am able to draw upon a flex spending account of $2300 to cover tuition. This spending account renews yearly and will cover about 75% of my tuition costs. There is also a scholarship available through the region that covers about $4000 a year for education in a job-related area of study. So between all of these things, the education is essentially free. Or pretty close to free.
What about taking time off work to do classwork? I applied for the part-time degree program that offers all courses online or through similar distance education options. It is designed with the working professional in mind and will flex easily around my schedule. I won’t have to take any extra time off for courses – with the exception of a two week stint at the University for a particular course.
Oh wait, the other really cool thing! Because I will be a part-time student for the next twelve months – I plan on taking classes in the summer, as well – there will be a nice tax refund at the end of the year. That couple of grand I’m likely to get back will go directly to paying down our consumer debt. Essentially, going to school will pay down my debt.
As part of my plan to increase my/our income, my husband and I decided to rent out our basement to a tenant for $800 a month. Our tenant will move in August and we have a detailed plan as to how we will use this money to better our financial situation. The side benefit of this is that we get to diversify our income streams to include more than just our “day jobs”.
I do have plans to monetize this blog at some point but I’m not exactly sure how to go about that quite yet. I’m not interested in plastering my blog with sub-par advertisements and dodgy sponsored posts about “the five myths about payday loans”. I suppose all of this will come with time – it’s only been four months.*
Resolution 2. I will make plans to spend more time with friends – FAIL
I’ve been spending time with a couple of my close friends but this has been only every few weeks. I don’t really know what I consider a ‘pass’ in this section, but I know it’s not the Ignore-Fest that I’ve been rolling with in the past three months.
I do want to try some new things and broaden my social circle but I haven’t really been putting myself out there. It’s a good project for Patio and BBQ Season – AKA Summer.
Resolution 3. I will start tracking my finances and educate myself on how to save money and pay down my debt – PASS
I’ve been tracking my expenses consistently since I made the goal originally back in February. This has shown me a number of areas where I was spending way too much on things I didn’t want or need. Here are some changes that I’ve made since then:
- Cancelled our landline that cost us $35.00 a month. All three of us have cell phones and we never, ever used the phone for anything – it was like flushing forty bucks down the toilet.
- Downgraded our cable package to the most basic one offered. We ended up saving another $30.00 on this one every month as well.
- Made changes to my cell phone bill – reducing or cancelling features and add-ons that I didn’t really need. This saved me another $35.00 a month.
- Created a budget for entertainment spending. Since then, I’ve been much better at working within my limits.
- Cancelled our satellite radio plan which works out to $400/year or $33/month in savings.
- Reduced how much I spent on clothes by holding swap parties** and being open to clothing hand-me-downs from other people (thanks mom). To estimate, I’ve saved about $400 a year on this expense, or $33 a month. (This is a conservative estimate)
These savings total to be about $170 a month or almost $2000 a year – and we didn’t really have to change our behaviour at all. A Netflix subscription and listening to local radio is as sacrificial as it’s gotten so far – and frankly, Netflix is better. I will have to change my behaviour with the reduction in my Ipad data plan but I’m pretty sure I can adapt to getting what I need from my Iphone data plan.
Resolution 4. Be open to new opportunities/bring good things into my life -PASS
I think starting this blog, starting my degree, and being open to new ways of improve my financial situation have improved my life dramatically. It’s been covered in the other sections so I won’t repeat myself here. Year 2013 is my year!
5. Work on my time management skills and a better work/project/life balance – In progress
Yeah, this is still a work in progress. I’m a little obsessed with all my side projects – I need to balance a little better.
*This isn’t to say I’m not open to advertisements and sponsored posts; I just want to be careful that whatever I allow on the site is consistent with my overall messaging. That is, if anyone will actually care to advertise with my blog at some point. 😉
**Swap parties are parties that you can hold with your friends. You ask everyone to bring their gently used clothes and then you “swap” them between each other in the group.
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