Help a Long Time My Journey to Millions Reader and Commenter

Help a Long Time My Journey to Millions Reader and Commenter

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Kevin M is a long time commenter on my site…this is his question to you guys. I was inspired to write this post when I read Evan’s recent post about his friend’s lack of action to change his miserable life.

Who is Kevin M?

A little history – I started reading personal finance blogs around 2007. I was not their typical target reader – one that needs to get off the cycle of living paycheck to paycheck and get out of debt. I had done that on my own a few years earlier after what I call my “life reboot.”

A divorce, layoff and selling my nice house within 3 months led to a summer of reflection that left me questioning why I had so much “stuff” after working for 5 years, but hardly any money in my bank accounts. I got my financial life in order and by 2006 I was in decent shape. We are currently debt-free except the mortgage on the home we purchased last summer.

I started to read pf blogs for validation and fascination. Like rubber-necking at an accident on the highway, I couldn’t help but read stories of people who had done insane things with money. I bounced around to different blogs through the years, eventually settling on a few that I consistently read. The current bunch focus on bigger issues like wealth accumulation, investing strategies and retirement planning.

I’ve noticed a common theme among several personal finance bloggers. Several of them followed their passion of getting out of debt, or just talking personal finance in general and now make a living writing about it. Naturally, they began to preach the virtues of “doing what you love” to make a living, rather than suffering away at a 9-5 job for 30-40 years. Toss in books like Your Money or Your Life, 4 Hour Workweek and Escape from Cubicle Nation, and I admit this sounds very sexy. The only thing is, I find it hard to define my true passions. I like watching hockey on TV and I played in-line (roller) hockey in college but I’m not sure I love it enough to find a career there. I like remodeling my home, but doing it professionally and worrying about building codes, subcontractors, etc. seems like a whole different experience. Other than that, I don’t have a lot of time for hobbies, with a wife, an almost 3 year old son and a baby on the way occupying a lot of my time.

When I think about my future, I alternate between wanting to buy a few acres of land and support my family farming, setting up a workshop in my basement or garage and building furniture for a living or just keep working at my current job as a CPA – either at my current firm or eventually starting my own practice. My answer to the popular life planning question “what would you do if you won the lottery?” is probably to buy run down homes to fix up. Some say the answer to that question is what you should really be doing for work, but I’m not sure. Basically, I have no idea what I want to do when I grow up. If asked the standard lame interview question “where do you see yourself in 10 years?”, I’d probably put down money on the third option. Why? Because in my mind it’s the safest. Not only financially, but also practically. No one’s going to think I’m crazy for pursuing a career as a CPA (which I’ve been doing since 1998). The other options, I would probably get a few strange looks from people close to me.

Kevin M’s Current Career

My current position is at a local CPA firm with about 10 employees. We do mostly tax work, so from February 1 – April 15 I’m pretty swamped. But other than that I have a pretty flexible schedule. The 2 partners basically allow me freedom to work on what I want and take time off when I want – as long as I meet deadlines and get my work done. I make a good salary and they pay my health insurance (a big deal with a wife of child-bearing age and 2 kids). I like interacting with most of the clients and helping them with special projects when I can. But most of the time it’s the same work quarter after quarter, year after year. Some other things nag at me – mainly I don’t feel challenged by the work I do about 95% of the time, but secondary to that – the lack of communication in the office that leads to poor customer service and my commute also feed into my frustration. I definitely don’t hate my job like I did in previous positions, but I also don’t find it completely fulfilling. I’m willing to admit maybe some of that is my fault. I could probably do more to make the job interesting/challenging but I just don’t have the motivation.

Part of my lack of forward motion on any new project is my desire for results. I like to work on a project and see results in a short time, if not immediately. It’s hard for me to think long-term sometimes.

Thus my conundrum – do I:

  1. stay at my relatively safe job, put my head down and work for another decade and hope to pay off my mortgage by then – that being by far our largest expense and reason for full time work
  2. look for another job in accounting that might be a greater challenge, but would probably just be moving on for moving on sake
  3. pursue one of the above mentioned alternative professions and risk my family’s savings and security

I’m not looking for a magic bullet here, but feel free to add comments, criticism or encouragement as you see fit. I’m a big boy, I can take it.

58 Responses to Help a Long Time My Journey to Millions Reader and Commenter

  1. Kevin M, I think I know you. Kevin M from Out of Your Rut, or just a coincidence? Just curious.

    I have to imagine doing anything after a certain amount of time is boring… that number of years is 5 for me, what is it for you?

    10 more years of doing the mundane kind of sucks. Why not just work on what you’re doing now since it’s stable and pays, and think like crazy to come up with a a great money making idea?

    I definitely wouldn’t risk your life savings for something new and untested.

    • @FS – no, not from Out of Your Rut, I don’t have a blog. Thanks for the comment, I have been brainstorming side jobs/projects, maybe I should just keep doing that and not go for such a drastic change.

  2. @Sam – No, this is a different one.

    @Kevin – Is it the accounting profession as such which is a problem, that is, you’d encounter the same frustration anywhere else or is the just your current job? Do you consider your job a mission with a goal or is it mainly to support the family in an preferably exciting way?

    It sounds like you’re 80% there in terms of how great the job can be and based on past history is sounds like it doesn’t get much better. That said, I (being risk averse) would not switch without having anything to switch to.

    Set up something that has a potential for income e.g. furniture making, not playing hockey. Get good at it. Sell some pieces for instant gratification. Of course once you do that, it may become clear that your heart is not really in accounting. However, it sounds like 100% commitment is not really necessary (it is in some careers), so that may be okay. Regardless, at that point you can put all/most of your energy into your “other life” and just do the minimum to sustain your “work life”. A career is not a lifetime commitment.

    • @ERE – I have to say I debated sending this guest post to your blog originally, but hoped you would come over and chime in.

      I would say it’s 75% the accounting profession (at least public accounting) that is the problem and 25% the current position (lack of communication, etc.) that frustrates me. But I’m guessing if I go somewhere else, there will likely be the same problems – just a different color.

      I think your advice is solid, my biggest issue of course is time to devote to my side gig, but I’ll work on that.

      • I am glad you sent it over here! LOL

        I think I have a different outlook than Jacob. I am not convinced I want out of the rat race yet, would I like the choice to get off the track every once in a while…of course, but at what cost?

        Jacob’s blog is amazing and I love reading it to see a different persepective than mine.

        • @Evan – I think your viewpoint pretty well aligns with mine. For one, I’m not sure I have the confidence in myself if I did amass a “F-U” fund I could live off it like Jacob does. The biggest things I’ve learned from Jacob are: a) that it is possible to live on less and be satisfied (basically defeating the myth that frugality = misery) and b) the importance of cash flow from investments.

  3. Kevin:

    It looks like you already have an answer given the way you framed those questions. I think the answer lies hidden in your ‘current career’ section:

    “I like interacting with most of the clients and helping them with special projects when I can.”

    What conflict-of-interest policy does your firm have with you starting your own on the side? If you could stay at your current job and do a little moonlighting – would you do it?

    Or could you start a specialty boutique (to avoid conflict) and focus in on very specific (possibly unattractive, but likely challenging) aspects of accounting? Does the industry have any back-checks against people’s work? Could you start working as a client representative: checking, interpreting, & explaining what other accountants provide them?

    You can stay at your current job without “putting your head down”. Attend industry seminars, join professional organizations, and just start getting a feel for what’s out there. You may not be looking for a job, but a job may come looking for you.

    • Thanks for the comment. I don’t have a non-compete and could do a little accounting on the side, but I’m not sure I want more accounting in my life right now :)

  4. Stay at the job. You have the nice house + family – now you have to pay for them. :)

    Like others said, work on something on the side for fun and/or profit.

    • Well isn’t that the issue, “Stay at the job. You have the nice house + family – now you have to pay for them”?
      Are you looking to get away from the career or feel a stagnation in your life. You have a nice house and build a family… you sought out these things and now have the responsibility.

      Change your thinking to outside the box: maybe locate a different house where cost of living is lower and will allow you to take your savings to tinker with other possible income avenues of one’s interest. If you’re in accounting, I assume your clients would follow? Work from home?

      But don’t quit until you have a decent sum of money to help you change.

      Oh ya, the other things would be finding a mutual agreement with your other half while doing these things. Hmmm…

      • @MoneyFunk – I guess it’s more stagnation after 10+ years doing basically the same thing at work. I need a challenge and am not currently getting it. I probably need to be more proactive in seeking out challenge though.

        Moving isn’t an option right now. It’s not bad enough to even consider that route. Thanks for your input.

        • 10+ years of doing the same thing suuuuuuuuucks. I feel your pain brother!

          I recommend you start a blog, join the Yakezie, and make thousands a month from our new challenge! jk, but not really. We’re making great progress, slowly, together.

          What about going to school part-time and changing professions?

  5. Kevin,

    While it’s scary we only go around once. I think I would take the skills you currently have and any other hidden talents etc. and start searching for another way to bring income in. It might not mean walking away from the current gig right this second, but you could likely come up with something in the 6-10 month time line.

    While @Money Smarts Blog made a funny comment.. I don’t think it’s fair to say you have this now deal with it.

    Life changes, plans must be fluid not concrete. I can’t remember the exact wording from “The Art of War” but no plan survives first meeting with the enemy, or something to that extent.

    I’ve read the 4HWW and truth be told it makes things sound a lot easier then they are. I run a business full time online but by no means am I sipping margaritas on the beach some where.

    I would suggest taking one of your other hobbies/passions (remodeling, roller hockey etc.) and start tossing ideas around. Maybe you could create some sort of roller hockey portal online that is networked across the country. It would provide news, gear reviews, ad space etc.

    Or maybe you’re far above average with remodeling and could create some ebooks or videos on frequent home remodeling projects people deal with. You could sell them anywhere from $10-$20 bucks a shot.

    Just tossing ideas out there.

    I hope you find your way!

  6. I would suggest, at the very least, taking a look at what other jobs are currently available to you.

    I’m of the opinion that it never hurts to look for an upgrade in times of mental malaise, and as long you think it will be as secure as your current job, then and only then would I make the move.

  7. Perhaps once the new baby comes, after 6-12 months, you could hedge your bets a bit. Try a little of both — find an accounting job that’s only PT, while building up a side gig in one of the areas that interests you. Only if you can financially swing it, of course. Perhaps commit a specific amount of “capital” from your savings to the side gig venture, and once you’ve exhausted it, return to FT work as a CPA until you can make the attempt again.

    If you were single, it would be another story, but you do have a family to support, so it’s difficult to make a move that could impact your financial stability (but increase your own happiness). As my father always tells me, “The easiest thing to do is nothing” — but it’s not always the BEST thing.

    • @RDS – you bring up a good point and something we have thought about. In the future, my wife plans to return to work. We’ve discussed the possibility of me going part-time then, but it probably wouldn’t be for around 5 years or until our new baby goes to kindergarten.

  8. The accounting career can open up a ton of different doors out there, it just depends on what you want to do.

    Could you get a financial planning designation and do financial planning as well as CPA work either at your company or on the side?

    Do you have a Master’s? You may be able to teach on the college level for additional income/exposure.

    How about opening your own practice? A lot of risk but perhaps a lot of reward.

    A CPA is a good career but I’ve heard a lot of accountants burn out. If you feel bored now how will you feel in 5-10 years?

    • @Craig/FFB –
      Yes, I could get a CFP or PFS (the CPA version of CFP certification), it’s basically another test to pass like the CPA was, and some work experience requirement, which would probably require me to switch companies. Interestingly, I interviewed with a couple places(American Express and Prudential) out of college and almost went that route.

      I don’t have a Masters, so not sure about the teaching, but I have kicked that around as well as a future endeavor.

      Opening my own practice is something I’ve considered as well, but practice development is my absolute weak spot. Again the issue is what you mentioned last, is this burn out or just the wrong position?

  9. As you put it you have 3 choices:
    1) Do nothing and deal
    2) Look for another job and hopefully everything works out
    3) Focust on alternative options

    What interests me is that you seem like you have an entreupuneral spirit trying to fight out. You say things like,

    “I like interacting with most of the clients”
    “setting up a workshop in my basement or garage and building furniture for a living”
    “eventually starting my own practice”

    I feel like that too sometimes, a lot of the time actually, but with family comes responsibility. I am not complaining, nor are you…it is what it is.

    So why not a side gig? What are you doing in the hours before you go to bed and your kids are done hanging with you? Build a chair (which is beyond me how anyone can build furniture…I can barely do anything around the house). Sell the chair on craig’s list or to some local furniture place. Even if the money sucks at first at least you are monetizing your hobby.

    Tonight…Visualize your first project and plan it out! Don’t be one of those guys that wakes up in 10 more years and asks what the F happened? You are better than that.

    • @Evan – most nights I get home about 5, play with the kid for awhile or cook dinner (wife and I usually rotate), eat dinner and either play some more or do bath time. We alternate bedtime so I’m either doing that until 9ish or free at 8:30. Usually either read, watch some TV and hang out with the wife and go to bed 10:30 or so.

      Time is definitely precious, but I’m going to try to make it a priority and devote 30 min/night to building something.

      Your 2nd to last sentence says it all, sometimes I look back and ask where did the last 10 years go? I have accomplished quite a bit, but I know I can do better. Thanks a bunch for the encouragement.

      • Kevin, it is good to see you responding to the comments.

        I gotta say, I think we are leading very similar lives. I’ve been doing my job for a long time and like you, not challenged at all.

        One thing you mention is that your kid goes to bed at 9 pm? We have our kids (2 and almost 4) going to bed at 7:30 and it really opens up the evening. If I want to do a blogging evening then it’s not hard to get a couple of good hours in and still go to bed at a reasonable time.

        • @MSB – we sometimes don’t get finished with dinner until 7. What’s your secret? But truly, I wouldn’t give up the time with my son for extra money, so I’m willing to work around his schedule. Even starting at 9 would get me a good hour of work if I can manage.

          • I guess our “secret” is that we eat dinner very early. Usually around 5:30. It can take a while but we are usually done by 6 so there is time to go to the park/play etc. Bath at 7 – stories etc. Lights out at 7:30 pm.

    • I am pretty pumped I won that over at Financial Saumari’s blog – Reading it next week when I go on vacation.

      If you want to read it – its your after I finish?

  10. A few things jumped out at me from your description:

    “I like to work on a project and see results in a short time, if not immediately.” and “I like interacting with most of the clients and helping them with special projects when I can.” To me this boils down to you like “projects” and you like “helping people.”

    Since the firm you work with does mostly tax work (which can get pretty monotonous year after year) what about trying to bring in some audit clients? That brings a lot of variety and is project based. Or what about developing a small business section of the firm where you can offer assistance to new businesses on getting their accounting systems set up. Maybe offer to develop some type of training seminars to get new clients introduced to the firm…help them set up their books and computer systems, etc. Then, you can do their taxes after that :) Basically, anything you can do to focus on “accounting projects” that are not tax related. If the current partners are not open to you doing that, maybe that can be your side gig….And that side gig could eventually be your full time gig.

    Also, what about inquiring what you need to do to make partner? Then you can call the shots and have people working for you. Your CPA background offers you a very wide umbrella of opportunity.

    • @Mrs. Not Made of Money – audit would be a side gig as the current partners are not up to speed on those rules. Honestly it doesn’t interest me at all. I’d rather to financial planning if it came to switching specialties but staying in public accounting.

      Your small business/accounting idea is one I’m actually working on little by little – trying to specifically market to businesses needing bookkeeping and upselling tax work.

      Re: making partner, they’ve actually brought that up since both are nearing retirement but I need to bring in clients (I think the number was $30k in annual fees) before I can move forward. Honestly, at this point if I had the clients I’d probably go out on my own and work from home or get a small office closer to home.

  11. First, why are you wanting to make a change? Is it the lack of challenge & the commute? (In other words, would you be happy at a different, more challenging account job that was near your house?) Or is it something else?

    If you had great health insurance for free & knew with 100% certainty that you would succeed at whatever you tried, would you go out on your own?

    Second, I don’t think you need to be limited to 3 choices. There are always more choices :)

    However it would help to know more of your reason for wanting to make a change.

    • @Jackie – mostly lack of challenge that is spurring this, I know I’m not learning anything new right now and that’s not good. The commute is tolerable most of the time as it’s only 30 minutes.

      Yes to your second question.

      • Since you gave a solid yes to my second question, I think you should go out on your own. If you want to minimize risk, you could do whatever your choice would be on a part time basis at first. Keep in mind that your progress will probably be slower, so you might want to pick something that allows you to have regularly completed tasks (so you see progress and stick with it.)

  12. I agree with what many others have said, you need to think about working on the side to create other opportunities.

    That may mean late nights, little TV viewing, and less time wasting, but it’s worth it in the end if you find something you are passionate about and can earn money for doing it as well.

    Your passion isn’t necessarily going to be something that’s natural, innate, or obvious. It may take time to figure it out, or it may happen accidentally.

    I’ve literally fallen into all the lucrative jobs I’ve had including my current job. People would come to me and ask for help because they could see I was good at something. Sometimes we are too caught up in our own head to see what talents we truly have.

    Another way to approach that is to ask people who know you what your talents are.

    I still would consider switching jobs, since you have some issues with your current place of business. I’m not familiar with all the options for CPAs, but my Dad who is a CPA currently works with SAP, and is raking it in as a consultant.

    Good luck!

    • @Kelly – fair point about finding passion, I guess when I read what others are doing it just seems so easy and I kinda feel like something is wrong. I think your advice is good though to try some things on the side short-term, and maybe look for a better fit in the F/T job long-term. Thanks for the input.

  13. Hi Kevin,

    I was in your situation just a few months ago. I am in marketing. I was at a job that while the money was decent and I had a ton of flexibility, I just wasn’t being challenged. I, like you, thought it was the profession. I thought just being in a cubicle was the kiss of death. I thought that moving on would just be making a lateral move. Now my situation might be different because I had this job out of college and through the first 5 years of my career. I discussed it with my wife (no kids, so that adds some flexibility) and came to the conclusion that I should make the move but stay within marketing. My wife was convinced it wasn’t the career but the company. I made the change in January and haven’t looked back. I am definitely happier than I was, but I found out for sure that I don’t want to sit in a cube the rest of my life. While I like my job for the time being, I became inspired to do everything I could to afford myself the flexibility of choosing to do the work I want. So long story short, I made the move within my profession, increased my happiness marginally, but was inspired to figure out my true passion in life. This probably doesn’t help much at all, but I don’t think there is an easy answer to your question. I really do hope you find what you are looking for. And along the way, if you find what it is I am looking for, please let me know!!

    • Thanks for sharing your story. What was the tipping point that finally made you change? It’s hard for me to think moving jobs since a) the economy is bad and the current job is pretty secure (as far as I know) and b) I don’t hate it/it’s not a toxic atmosphere, but obviously there are issues.

  14. The final tipping point for me was when I realized what a miserable jerk the job was making me! Obviously, my wife was the first to notice my change in demeanor over time. By Xmas time in 2009 I was just so mopey and miserable that I told myself I had to make a change, if for no other reason than to improve my attitude. Boy did it work. Don’t get me wrong, it is not my dream job, but I am not miserable anymore either.

    I also was concerned about moving due to the economy and my current job was secure (at the time). Interestingly, my new company grew 33% in 08 AND 09, and is on pace to grow even more this year. My old company lost a key contract and has nothing going on at the moment. So the change worked out in that way as well.

    • Yikes, I know I haven’t been the easiest person to live with sometimes lately, I may need to get the wife’s input on that one. Maybe I’ve reached my tipping point and don’t realize it.

  15. Hey Kevin,

    I’ve been working in accounting for over 20 years, and am currently working at a consulting gig that pays the bills working about 10 hours a week doing tax work for a fairly large public company that doesn’t want the expense of a full time tax person. They also want someone to work on quarter ends (working about 10 days per quarter) on an ongoing basis to prepare the deferred tax provisions etc. If I wanted to do this long term, I could probably make $50k/year working at about 40%. If I’d negotiated my contract better for the long term, I could have made more though since I’ve made double that in other contracts. Unfortunately, I want to move out to that few acres of land. :-) But I’ve also factored in that if, in the future, my investments don’t cover my expenses, I’ll be coming back to the city and working for a couple of months a year at a contract job to pay for any shortfall.

    I hear you on the immediate gratification thing and not tolerating boredom, I’m the same way. I think the longest I’ve stayed in any job has been about 2 1/2 years and prior to that about 18 months. So I knew my personality was more conducive to consulting anyway.

    Unlike you, after I put in my 3 years of articling, I got out ASAP because the money just isn’t in public accounting. I know of a few tax specialists who work part time at companies and are doing very well. Also know of a few IFRS consultants that specialize in tax that are doing well and a couple of regular consultants that do SOX work and special projects that only work 4-6 months out of the year, some of whom go down south for the winters etc. as well.

    One of the most helpful books w.r.t. career transition (especially helpful with those that have experience like you, not kids out of school) that I know of is Working Identity by Herminia Ibarra. Here’s some notes from the book so you can see if it’s something you’re interested in:
    http://www.8020time.com/2009/10/notes-from-working-identity.html

    I also liked Nicholas Lore’s book Pathfinder.

    Best of luck to you!

    • Great input, thanks for the book recommendation. Maybe I need to look around, your setup sounds wonderful. If I could work part-time and still make enough to cover my obligations and have more time to devote to my side project(s) that would be ideal. How did you find your consulting gig?

      • Hey Kevin, glad to help. Don’t hesitate to email me directly if you want to discuss options. Finding gigs is the really easy part, I turn down projects on a regular basis. Most opportunities have come through my existing network. I’d hook up with Robert Half, post up on workopolis, linkedin, other headhunters – all the regular stuff if I didn’t have a big network. I also have a friend that owns a headhunting company.

        Most people I know really need a regular paycheck (or think they do) and don’t think outside the box when it comes to consulting work. What they don’t realize is that they can earn double or more and work half as much if they go the consulting route. But they’re scared and need the security of the paycheck I think.

        I also think it’s really helpful if you do have some generalist skills, so if you can pick up a couple of jobs as a controller like I have, it really expands your options for what you can do. I find with the recession (although I haven’t noticed a recession myself), lots of companies don’t want to hire permanent replacements but the work still needs to get done.

  16. Kevin, it sounds like working on the public side, you’re already seasonal. You could use the down time between quarters or years to develop other channels for your own side-gig or to make partner. Who cares if others aren’t familiar with what you want to do? They’re your clients, you’re the expert, and you brought them in out of season. Go you.

    If they already approached you and told you it takes $30k of annual bills to make partner, that’s pretty sweet because then you get to live on other people’s pimp juice too. Doing $30k on your own wouldn’t be nearly as stable or easy (I’m guessing but only a little).

    By all means though, keep your passions.

    • Somewhat seasonal as far as being busy, but I’m still required to be here 40/hrs week. (I’ve tried to negotiate down to 4 work days but haven’t been approved yet.) You’re right I could use the down time to develop new work and to an extent I have been, just not aggressively.

      The $30k would go to the firm, I’d likely get a raise if I made partner, but probably not dollar for dollar.

      • Of course not.

        If the immediacy is an issue, I would work out some bonus arrangement as a percentage of the business you bring in. This way you could still see increases in income to help motivate you to the partner level.

        At the one almost normal job I had after my “college” phase, I traded in my salary for an all-bonus deal that I created – and it was awesome.

  17. Maybe start asking yourself “How can I” questions. It presupposes that there is a definite answer. How can I discover my true passions? How can I earn a killer living doing what I love? And then focus your attention on all that you want. To the degree that we focus on something, is what usually shows up in our lives. Good Luck!

  18. I try not to be flip about the subject of fulfilling work. I don’t believe there is a purpose for us to discover but rather one that we define ourselves through introspection. Just saying “Do what you love” can be disastrous advice for many people, I believe “Do what you are” leads to a more achievable and fulfilling outcome. There are several tools out there to help. Myers-Briggs is the best known personality type quantifier although I think excellent results can be had with some scheduled uninterrupted time, a pencil and a (paper) notebook.(turn off the mobile phone and go somewhere natural-the woods, the beach, etc.)
    Most of us have lives that are riddled with interruptions and our thoughts are constantly fragmented. Taking the time to ask and answer our most fundamental questions is a necessity. Questions like:

    What is my purpose in life?
    What would I do to help others even if I did not get paid for it?
    If I knew I would be dead in exactly 90 days, what would I do with my remaining time alive?
    How do I want to be remembered?
    What do I enjoy doing the most?
    What am I interested in?
    What am I good at?
    What would I like to learn more about?

    These are just a few of the questions that we can use to arrive at a better awareness of who we are and what we want to do with our lives. I think there are 3 elements of purpose: Our top values, our service to others and our intended affect on our world. crafting and defining a purpose that contains these elements can be a life changing experience.

    Make no mistake, this is hard work and requires focus, concentration and effort. Anything worthwhile is usually found just past the point one wants to give up.

    Best of luck to you1

    -WR

  19. In my former life as a career counselor I frequently recommended Richard Bolles book, “What Color is Your Parachute.” It is long and requires quite a bit of patience and time. But try it bit by bit and you may get some direction. You seem like a really motivated guy, but remember to be patient with yourself. You don’t have to make a decision or change immediately. Continue to consider options and allow a decision to emerge. Best of luck, Barb
    PS You might even consider doing accounting part time while trying a new option. Think flexibly!

  20. With kids, I want stability and the health insurance coverage, so I would stay at our current job, but look for a new job. After all, you can be picky since you do have a job!

    In the mean time, pursue some of your other interests! If possible do so with your wife, it would be best if you could get her involved in some way too! That way you can tackle some of your hobbies together, like working on houses.

    My blog is small, and I really don’t make much money from it, but it’s a great escape from my 9 to 5 job…

    I hate to sounds like everybody else but I would stay where you are and continue side projects (remembering to include your wife if possible)…

    I do think that it would be easier to look for another job while your child is young, because mine are 9 and 6, and they have developed a sense of identity with our house and the city we live in…

  21. I know how you feel. I’ve only been at my current job for 3 years and I think some of the same things. The really crazy thing is that I love my job. I honestly can’t think of another job I’d prefer. The thing is I don’t want to just have a “job” forever. I want to either do my own thing, or possibly do the ERE thing if I can.

    In your position (and mine), I’d keep working the job while trying to figure out how to support your family another way, or save up enough support it with investments. I’m like you, I enjoy working on stuff, so I’m seriously considering saving up for some real estate. I hope to do the work to fix up houses and then keep them as rentals. I plan to pay them off as fast as possible with the day job, and then use them to eventually give up the day job.

  22. Thanks everybody for the helpful comments. I’d like to do a follow up at some point if for no other reason than to keep myself accountable.

  23. Kevin, it sounds like you have a lot of really great suggestions already so I’ll try not to repeat what other people said.

    One question that I haven’t seen is what does your family think about this? It’s great that they are a major consideration in your decision, but I think talking to them about your options is really important.

    On a related note. If you do move on to a different profession, do you have enough drive to persevere? Many people mentioned doing something on the side. I think this is a fantastic idea. The whole idea of try before you buy?

    You mentioned that you think you’d be interested in doing financial planning. Perhaps you can start this on the side and see how much you enjoy it. It sounds like your current work is flexible enough that you’d have time to invest in yourself and learn the ropes. If you find that you’re passionate about it and it gives you the ability to make ends meet for your family, then perhaps you can revisit leaving your current job at that point.

    Whatever you decide, best of luck!

  24. Kevin. There’s a depression on. We have an official unemployment rate of around 10 percent. In reality, almost 20 percent of Americans are out of work. Count your blessings.

    My tax adviser once remarked, when I was going through a similar hand-wringing phase, “A shi**ty job is better than no job.” She was right.

    • I’m sorry, I just don’t like it when someone offers up the be thankful you have a job line. I can’t tell you how many people told me that during my search. I understand what you are saying, but the guy is miserable, why be thankful for that?

      If everyone was satisfied with where they were we would have no progress. What if abraham lincoln decided that slaves should be thankful they have a roof over their head? What if the fathers of our country decided to just be thankful for the land under their feet? I know a career is trivial compared to those things but the point is don’t settle for anything. Go get what you want. You will be a better man, husband, and father for it rather than pretending you are satisfied.

  25. Well, you know…maybe before you blast me for offering a little common sense, you might take a look at my site. I spent 10 years in an unhappy job working for an exploitive employer. I didn’t pretend to be “satisfied.” There simply were no other jobs in my field or utilizing my skills that paid better, or paid the same with less onerous work conditions. The one offer I got would have required me to foot the bill to move across the continent (at a certain age, you have acquired some things, some friends, and some family you’d like not to abandon) and take a $10,000 pay cut.

    I can’t count the number of times I considered simply quitting and taking my chances with long-term unemployment. The layoff that came as a result of the economic crash finally forced me to make that decision…but not until I was eligible for Social Security. With no source of income to cover the basic bills, walking away from a tedious job to take on more satisfying but much lower-paid work was out of the question.

    Kevin is sick of the work. He wants to quit his job because he’s bored with what he’s doing. That’s not really a great reason to step off a cliff. He has a family to support. Neither setting up a furniture shop in the basement nor trying to make a living farming “a few acres” is likely to do that. Rather than blithely following his bliss, he’d be far better off to keep the day job and try the farming or the furniture gig on the side, to see whether it will fly. At the very least, he should get himself a paid apprenticeship or entry-level job in his dream occupations — say, a job at Thos. Moser? At least then he’d earn a little to help keep food on the table.

    If following your bliss entails leaping off a precipice, be sure there’s a safety net at the bottom…

  26. I apologize if I came across as blasting you. Looking back at my post I can see that’s how I came across. Certainly not my intention.

    However, being in the same situation less than 6 months ago, albeit without the children, I can honestly say that I was fed up with the “Be happy you have a job” advice. If I had a nickel for everyone who advised me to be happy with a job I didn’t like, I wouldn’t have had to worry about a job anymore because I’d be independently wealthy.

    Anyways, my opinion still stands, don’t be happy that you have a job you don’t like. Figure out what you want and go for it. Your family will appreciate you more for it.

    And again, I apologize for the abrasive nature of my reply to you Funny ABout Money.

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