Career Change Turbulence

Have current “problems” in world financial markets (probably an understatement, I know…) spooked your career change plans?

I don’t blame you – people have a natural (survival) inclination “to batten down the hatches” in uncertain times, and concentrate on staying afloat.

And I know all too well for a lot of potential career changers that means making the best of their current job, and recognizing that putting food on the table is a priority.

Nonetheless here are five “cash flow tactics” that some coaching clients are experimenting with to help bolster their personal finances – in the belief that stormy financial skies will clear in the future and they’ll be able to spend some of these savings on furthering their career change goals.

(It may have crossed your mind that “coaching” itself is a discretionary expense that could be cut.

Indeed it can, and I know of people who have done just that because it was the best thing to do in the circumstances.

Your mileage may vary!)

In no particular order, here are the 5 cash flow tactics:

1- Eat a good home breakfast and pack a lighter lunch.
You’ll have more energy to carry you through the working day and fewer urges to eat junk snacks.

2- Track your daily spending on every item as it occurs, not later!
This takes some self-discipline. Basically, you act as your own ‘Chief Financial Officer’ (CFO) and find reasons to delay or cancel a purchase. You’ll save money doing this, for sure.

3- Delay all new discretionary expenditures by a minimum of 1 month. For example, if you see a DVD you like/want today on Tues 6 May, make a note of it, even check out where to buy and how much, but take NO further action until you review the idea again on 7 June, or later.

Putting this into daily action can save you $$$$$ !!! (or whatever currency you deal in.)

4- Pay fully in cash – no credit installments.

5- Review all monthly recurring home and living expenses in the form of a simple cash flow spreadsheet.

For #2 above, I use a simple PocketMod carried around in my shirt breast pocket. Seemed odd to be doing this for the first few weeks but now I feel strange if I don’t record what I just bought… right down to the smallest item.

After some months I began to know what my “30 day trailing average” was for personal spending – and when those little splurges happened (I had treated myself), I felt OK about it.

And because I had a target to get back on track for, I knew I could hit that rolling mean again in a few months or less.

Not only is this a good way of helping to fund a “career change project“, it’s a great habit to adopt if you are planning on running your own small/home business because adequate “Cash Flow” really is the lifeblood of many small businesses. Ouch! Don’t I know it.

Armed with just this simple awareness of daily spending habits, I reckon I’m now saving (or at least delaying for a while!) about $100 a month in “impulse” and “want” buys.

Have your career change plans been disrupted by the current “credit squeeze”?

And what are you doing about it to keep your dream alive?

- Mark McClure

Is Your Career Escape Pod Burning Up In The Buyosphere?

As I write this post it’s Tuesday lunchtime Japan time and the World’s stock markets are having another bumpy day – downwards. Anyone with a significant portfolio must be feeling a tad queazy.

And then my thoughts turn to the tech bubble and the Y2K froth of 1999. (Isn’t it amazing how the mind flits around time and space by just association and emotion!)

Midsummer of that year I remember meeting with a number of headhunters in Tokyo -as I’d been downsized due to a takeover by a conglomerate run by Dennis Kozlowski.

I figured I would aim for a job with one of the Foreign Banks in Tokyo because a) they pay well and b) they have big, complex networks and value the technical skills necessary to keep them running.

And if I couldn’t find what I wanted by the turn of the century (lol!), then my family and I would head back to the UK and say sayonara to Japan. (All this assumed that the clocks would keep working and the planes stay airborne after 1/1/2000. How funny it seems now!)

Most of these recruitment guys and gals offered the well intentioned advice that it would be difficult to break into Financial Services IT without industry experience.

Well, I didn’t see it that way since networked bits and bytes behave the same whatever the industry. I decided I would just keep knocking on vaults doors.

And then I knocked on Annie Chang’s office at IT Consulting.
While she didn’t get me a job, she gave me advice which was far more valuable than a paycheck.

I don’t recall the exact words but here is the jist of it:

Mark, you can certainly get into a bank here. But you might never get out.”

The significance of those words hit me 2 months later when I got the Investment Bank’s offer letter. Base salary up by 30% from previous company, excluding annual (discretionary) bonus. I was feeling giddy working out how much net income I could accrue.

“Do you copy me, Houston?”

Just like Parkinson’s law dictates that work expands to fill the time available, the same wisdom applies to increased disposable income. The temptation to spend it and enjoy the lifestyle can be irresistible in the rarefied air of the buyosphere.

Now far be it from me to tell anyone how to spend their hard earned yen /dollars / euros. And if you came to me for career change coaching I would certainly not be telling you what to do with your cash.

Remember, good coaching doesn’t tell you what to do with your life or career – but it can help shine a light on your present reality and on your potential. Ultimately, it’s still up to you to connect the dots and follow through, with or without a coach.

And that’s how I look at Annie Chang’s words. She made a telling statement about the reality of working inside the unique salary bubble that is Foreign Financial Firms in Japan. I chose to act on those words and saved most all my bonuses and a % of net income. 7 Years of that type of financial prudence (or maybe it’s me Scots roots) go a long way to weakening the yoke of wage slavery and long term debt (aka mortgage). Certainly it’s not the financial independence that comes with ongoing passive income nor the enormous bonuses of front office star traders – but hey, every little helps.

And in a world where NO job, career or salaried role is “permanent”, it is a mind set worth pondering every time your paycheck makes it’s monthly descent through your spending and debts.

- Mark McClure