The Bottom Line {March}

Last month I shared some of my thoughts on the ideas that I had been reading about in Laura Vanderkam's book, All the Money in the World. As I was preparing to share about our financial successes and failures for the month of March, I decided that it was worth it to share some more passages from Vanderkam regarding jobs and finding work that you love so much, you would do it for free. This is particularly relevant to me, because last week I gave notice to my boss that I was looking for a new job, and when I found one (or when I was no longer needed at my current job), I would give a two weeks notice.

It was the most freeing thing that I've done in a long time. I immediately felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders as the idea occurred to me that I could search for any job, apply for any position, and look into any option that might present itself to me over the next few weeks. After months of driving to work with a knot in my stomach, I'm on the hunt for something that will utilize my natural abilities, a job that will excite me, and something that I won't dread doing every day. Hey, a girl can dream, can't she?

"Those of us who can view our work this way are obviously privileged. I love writing, and it makes me incredibly happy to crank out articles and books, but I have done other jobs that I definitely have wanted to stop doing, like slapping garlic butter on bread sticks at Fazoli's Italian restaurant as a teenager. Then again, someone who owned an Italian family restaurant and worked with her children to lovingly re-create dishes from the old country might enjoy a good garlic slapping. We live in a delightfully varied economy, and if you have a solid education and a reasonable dose of ambition, there is likely some kind of work that would make you feel the way Van Ginkel does about hers. 'I never get up and feel, oh, I have to go to work today,' she says. 'I get up wanting to do this.'"
{All the Money in the World, Vanderkam, pg. 74}

The idea that Vanderkam is getting at in this passage is that just because we don't love the job we have, doesn't mean someone else might not adore it. I completely understand this idea, because even though I'm not working my dream job, my boss couldn't imagine doing anything else. She loves 98% of her job, and actually smiles as she's coming in to work, whereas I enjoy about 2% of my job and the smiling starts as I'm leaving work and heading home. Yes, she went through more years of schooling for her job, and yes, she gets paid more than I do, but I also have a feeling that she would totally "get" Vanderkam's point in the following section of All the Money in the World: "The happiest people I know have figured out what they love to do so much they'd do it for free--and then have figured out a way to get paid for their avocation." {pg. 75}

I haven't found out what that is for me - that job or chore that I love doing so much that I would volunteer to do it. I like people, but not grumpy people. I like the idea of working in health care, but not the politics and (did I mention?) grumpy people. I like writing when it's for fun (like the blog), but sitting down and trying to come up with a story line is a chore. I enjoy organizing, cleaning out, and shopping for people, but I'm not sure how to turn that into a business in the area of the country where I live. However, Vanderkam points out that finding this dream job won't be easy ...

Finding such work is, of course, hard labor in and of itself. It means a long process of getting to know your quirks and your dreams and observing when you are happiest, or trying different things until you hit that sweet spot. It often means taking risks--sometimes to start a business or to take over a failing organization that  you know you could remake with a grander vision in mind. I don't know any way to make this all easier. But I do know that any hours invested in the pursuit are worthwhile, because when work is a source of joy for its own sake, you don't calculate how many pennies you'd need to spend your last few decades on the golf course. You may build up massive amounts of wealth. Why not? Wealth is a blessing and enables many things. But no matter the size of the pile, you'd want to keep working until health issues prevented it [... b]ut saving for a few years of ill health that precludes almost all work at the very end of our lives is a different matter from saving for 20 to 30 years when we could work but don't.
{All the Money in the World, Vanderkam, pg. 75} 

By the way, if you haven't purchased and/or read All the Money in the World: What the Happiest People Know About Getting and Spending by Laura Vanderkam, I highly recommend that you pick up a copy. I was encouraged and challenged in my financial (and personal) thinking, and I appreciated Laura's fresh take on a topic that has been written about more times than I can count.

So, to get back on point - how does this affect our March Bottom Line? First of all, I've been working more hours this month, and Peter got a raise at work, so our income has definitely been higher in March. However, we also had two major outflows of capital: we owed the IRS (no surprise), and a special project came along that we both felt called to support, which meant that even though the balance was growing, it was hacked back down to size by the writing of two checks. And that's okay.

Not to continue to harp on Vanderkam, but she points out that sometimes it's not about holding every penny to our chest, it's about the happiness that comes from giving to others (like our special project). Yes, it might mean that it's another month before we get a roof on the PH, but we both knew that we needed to participate financially, and we both came up with the same $-amount to give, so we knew it was a God-thing. The roof will wait.


Bottom Line

1. Rainy Day Fund (R.D.F.) - FULLY FUNDED! {Happy Dance}
2. Taxes are done and paid for (both the tax service, and the IRS)
3. Had the money in place to give away (without touching the R.D.F.)
4. Kept our grocery budget down (only going to the store once a week really helps)
5. Now that the R.D.F. is funded, we're funneling everything into one account to pay cash for the P.H. projects

How have YOU done with YOUR financial goals?

Next Bottom Line Update: 4/24/12


  1. Carrie, how exciting about your job! I'm excited to see where this takes you.

    Congrats on the solid progress on th goals!

  2. Thanks, Anne! I'm pretty excited to see what's next! :-)

  3. I can really identify with the feelings that you have had about your job in recent posts. A few months ago that was me. So I was so excited to read today that you are seeing some light at the end of the tunnel. I remember what a relief that was!
    As far a doing something that you love for a job... I absolutely love being a homemaker right now, but it doesn't pay any money. Just like you, I would love to organize, clean out, and shop for people but don't know how to make that work in my geographical area. If you figure out something, please share. :)

  4. This is really exciting for you, Carrie! I've decided that sometimes the pay isn't worth it if you aren't liking what you are doing...

    I'm interested to see what you end up doing!

  5. Excited to read that you're in the process of finding a different job! Can't wait to see how it all pans out.


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