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Struggling in choosing a career. I want to get out of debt and have a permie future.  RSS feed

 
Dougan Nash
Posts: 67
Location: Eastern Shore, Maryland
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I'll try not to be too mopey or drone too much in this. Basically I am at my wits end as to what I should choose for a career and as of late it has really been getting me down. I went to culinary school and graduated with an associates 7 years ago. My wife double majored in 2 things equally useless. I have since decided I no longer want a career in the culinary industry and I got out 4 years ago. Since then I have worked at a coffee shop and now a desk job. Both offered decent pay, but nothing amazing (pulling in around 25K a year now). Neither of these has really set the base for a good-paying career though. My current job is background screening, but is so oddly specific and I can't move up within the company and there no competitors around to apply to.

In the next 2-3 years I want to begin making 40K. I'm not sure how this will happen, but I am so sick of student loan debt. My wife's is way worse than mine, but we're in this whole thing together. We have done everything we can do reduce living expenses and pay more towards the loan, but we can still only afford minimums (that's with renting my mom's house from her, not paying utilities, $250 a month in food, having family babysit).

I have been applying for anything I think will net me my 40K income hoping I can get into a decent career eventually, I even applied to be a manager at a Dunkin Donuts (50K a year don't sound too bad, job actually sounds fun). I'm still just lost. I love plants, I love growing, I love renewable energy, but I cannot afford to go back to school for anything new and I live in a small town. I'm not sure what I want out of this thread, maybe people to just throw at me what they do, how they make their money, and maybe how someone like me can get out of this hole, finally buy some land and start a food forest.
 
Mike Cantrell
Posts: 555
Location: Mid-Michigan
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Hang in there!

I'm going to throw two different quick thoughts and you, because I feel like a little bit of help now is better than a lot of help later when I've got my thoughts together.

1. You want money. You've got to get money from someBODY, and the way you're going to do that is to give them what THEY WANT. Don't talk to them about what you need. People want to talk about themselves, and what they want, and what they need, and their problems, and their plans, etc, etc. Think about you, but talk about them.

2. Everything in life is tradeoffs. Want to get paid for playing music? Good frickn luck. Everybody wants to be a musician. They want it so bad they're willing to do it for almost free, and nobody needs to pay you if they want to hear some music. But. Want to get paid for adjusting insurance claims? Now you're getting some where. Nobody wants to do that, but it needs to be done. That spells money.

(That happens to be my career, insurance claims.)

 
Mike Cantrell
Posts: 555
Location: Mid-Michigan
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Ok, couple more thoughts already.

For the love of goodness, don't go back to school. By-and-large, that's a racket.

Do definitely read through these ideas over at Reddit:

https://m.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/28chkm/serious_what_are_some_relatively_short_26_months/


Good on you for accepting reality with respect to what's available to you- apply to everything in sight, because you don't what will suit you to you try it.

Adjusting, like several other glamourless fields, is projected to encounter a massive shortage of talent due to a coming wave of retirements. Forward-thinking companies are starting to hire on a we'll-train-you basis to get ready.

Your background-checking experience, is that something that would be more valuable with a government security clearance?

 
Chadwick Holmes
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Location: Volant, PA
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Finish this sentence

If I had it my way I would ( be,do,make) blank.....

This will give some idea of your heart
 
John Weiland
Posts: 933
Location: RRV of da Nort
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Dougan,

First, add the following to what Mike C. has already laid out. You mentioned being skilled with cooking and loving plants. I would encourage you to try to merge those two for the time being and look this over in case it has not occurred to you: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/sites/default/files/public-service-loan-forgiveness.pdf

I had friends who went to medical school ...... racked up you can imagine what kind of debt. Then !whoosh!!.....debt gone quickly through this program for doing public service, in their case working for the Public Health Service. If you look through the PDF, there are scads of possibilities that now qualify as "public service". Please read carefully....AND creatively....what constitutes "full-time employment". With a little salesmanship, I could see you being the head cook-organic/healthy food selector for many non-profits involved in the scores of food pantry/ homeless kitchens in your area.

Second, make this a learning experience about debt.....and be another voice strongly advising future students about what they are getting themselves into.
 
Dougan Nash
Posts: 67
Location: Eastern Shore, Maryland
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Mike Cantrell wrote:
Your background-checking experience, is that something that would be more valuable with a government security clearance?


Thanks for all the wonderful advice, Mike. I'm not really sure. I am just a desk jockey where I work - the field kind of interests me, but anything else seems like it would either require a 1+ hour commute or moving, neither I can afford right now (If I move, my rent would at least double and I would have to start paying for daycare). How do you enjoy the insurance industry, how long have you been at it, how much do you make (if you don't mind me asking)? It does seem they are always hiring around here - I actually applied for a state farm job as of last night.

Chadwick Holmes wrote: If I had it my way I would ( be,do,make) blank.....


Yeah, I'm still struggling with that. Gardener/farmer sounds fun, but I don't want something that will just be an "It's not for everyone" job. I want to retire one day, I want to leave my children something more than just a farm. I do want to own land and a house and eventually give that to my children, but that goal is long off without getting out of debt first.

John Weiland wrote:
Second, make this a learning experience about debt.....and be another voice strongly advising future students about what they are getting themselves into.


Oh boy, tell me about it. This has been a huge eye opener. Too bad I was just a stupid optimistic 17 year old following the advice of all my peers, teachers, parents, and counselors. I would kill to go back in time and explain the situation to both myself and my wife, but who knows if we would actually listen. I have warned many people about college debt and I think I saved my sisters a hell of a headache.

 
Mike Cantrell
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Dougan Nash wrote: How do you enjoy the insurance industry, how long have you been at it, how much do you make (if you don't mind me asking)? It does seem they are always hiring around here - I actually applied for a state farm job as of last night.


It's good, now that I finally got a role that suits me.

I started eleven years ago, trying to sell life insurance. I'm a strong introvert (interacting with people drains me) AND I'm very shy (afraid of rejection). So sales, that didn't pan out for me!

I got hired as a trainee claims adjuster at $38k/yr from there.

It's a good job. Lots of freedom- work from home, set your hours, you're completely in charge of your files. And lots of perks- company car for personal use, internet and phone paid for.

But there's also a lot of pressure. The workload varies widely, the expectation is explicit that sometimes you'll work long hours for no extra pay, if you take vacation time your work just piles up waiting for you, and policyholders don't like hearing "no", no matter how absurd their expectations are.

So just this last year, I got a new role where I do quality control. I work for an adjusting company now, rather than an insurance company. When State Farm, for example, gets a big hailstorm, there are too many claims for their staff to handle. Instead of telling the policyholders to hang on for a month or four, they hire us to do the claims. We document the damage, dicker with the contractor if needed, and turn in a report telling them how much to pay. As the quality control guy, I check the other adjusters' reports for mistakes before we send them in to State Farm. It's like being a copy editor at a newspaper.

If you do end up in insurance, here's the secret: designations. The nature of claims is that you don't get to see other people's work. So how does anybody know who's awesome? It's the ones who give a darn enough to study for some tests and get letters after their names. (For example, I went straight for the big one, so I'm "Michael Cantrell, CPCU.") Hiring, firing, promotions, respect, they revolve around designations.

 
Troy Rhodes
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I always think about making money in two phases.

I used to be broke. I come from a long line of broke rednecks.

If you find yourself in that situation (NEED MONEY NOW), the first phase is to do something!

There is some part time, flexible hours kind of job that you could pick up and increase your income in the next year by 50-100%.

It could be cutting grass, shoveling snow, delivering newspapers at 4 in the morning, or pizzas 5 nights a week.

It could be self employed, or working for somebody else.

Are you handy? Homeowners and real estate people always need a handy person for those little fixes. 300 business cards, pass one out to every real estate office in town and drop one with a professional looking flyer in 200 mailboxes one evening. If you just show up when you say, fix their problem and charge a fair price that turns out to be the actual price, you will end up with more "part time" business than you can handle in 1 year.

Got a lawn mower? Print a nice flyer and business cards. You're hungry. Call and get 3 or 4 estimates for what the big pro services charge to cut your yard, and how often they do it. You could triple your income by cutting grass and doing light landscaping. Give people a free cut if they refer somebody. Start very local to you, so you don't need a truck. A 500 dollar trailer and a hitch will let you reach out to the whole city.

Maybe that turns into a permaculture landscaping business. Shamelessly promote organic/green/permaculture lawn care.

Get a phone book with a yellow pages. Flip through it one night and look at every category of business. Ask yourself, could I start a business like that for less than a grand? What would that business look like with a permaculture foundation and advertising?

Maybe it's pet sitting or dog walking. People spend ooodles of money on their pets boarding them while on vacation. Maybe you do it in their house, and visit 2 or 3 times a day. Again, call around ask what it costs to have this done. You will be shocked and amazed. Professional flyer and business cards. Maybe your twist is you also throw in basic obedience training while the owner is away so the dog sits on command, or comes on command. Ten minutes of clicker training a day is far more effective than a 3 hour obedience class.

Maybe it's car detailing and oil changes, at the client's house so they don't have to go anywhere or do anything.

Maybe it's mobile grooming?

Maybe it's a lunch truck or lunch trailder that makes the rounds of construction sites. I promise you, construction workers are an underserved population in this regard, If you make tasty nutritious stuff that's not full of mystery meat and carcinogenic dyes and preservatives, you could sell that sandwich for a dollar more and they won't blink. You could call it FOOD THAT WON'T KILL YOU. The first rule of marketing is to be memorable.

Maybe it's cleaning houses. A year from now, you could be making double what you make now, just by showing up on time, being neatly dressed and profession and doing what you say you're going to do. The flyers could feature your enviro/permaculture/organic approach. You pledge to not use toxic crap to clean their house, YET you charge the same or less than the competition. Microfiber clothes and vinegar water with a few drops of soap fix almost anything. Just showing up on time and doing what you say you're going to do for them puts you head and shoulders above half of all the competition out there.

Start listening to what people gripe about. Every time you hear somebody bitch about a poor service or product, that's a big red flag that says they want something better and are willing pay more for and will tell their friends about to boot. Those are all business opportunities.


I don't know what your angle is.

Go crazy. Try ten things, knowing that 9 will fail. AND knowing the one WILL succeed.

If you try ten things, and one works pretty good, and then you try ten more things, and two work out even better, that leads to phase 2.

It is hard to predict ahead of time, just by speculation and theory, what you will enjoy doing. The idea is hardly ever the problem. THere are a million ways to make money. By actually doing it and trying it, you may find a job or two or three that you really enjoy and want to do full time.

Trying it and finding out you hate it is a win! Try another one. Then another one.

Go throw a brick through your television. Every minute you spend watching tv or facebook or twitter is a minute you didn't spend finding the dream job of your life.


The short term phase one plan will give you the money to fund the long term phase two plan, AND will give you the experience and opportunity to discover what you really want for a job.

This is just applying the permaculture analysis and problem solving skills to, what do I want to do with the rest of my life.

Doing this led me to quit my factory job, go back to school and end up as an optometrist who is self employed and loving it.

During that process, I rehabbed house and converted the basement to an apartment and rented it out. That was undergrad. The profit from selling the house (and the rent) financed most of my optometry school and bought me a mobile home while I was in optometry school.

Working like crazy, for a time, is remarkably effective and getting the ball rolling.

 
Mike Cantrell
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Troy Rhodes wrote:If you just show up when you say...


As a guy who writes checks to a helluva lot of contractors, let me confirm this emphatically. I don't understand the plague of not showing up, but I tell you, it's an absolute plague. It's positively nonsensical how often I hear people say, "I tried to get an estimate, and the guy said he'd come Tuesday morning, but I never heard from him again." Just all the dang time.

It's so bad, from time to time I start thinking about quitting this job and starting a handyman service. If I just show up when I say I will, I'll be in the top 20% of contractors, and the top 20% of ANY business is a good place to be. Maybe I'll name it "ACTUALLY SHOWS UP HANDYMAN SERVICE."


Troy Rhodes wrote:...fix their problem and charge a fair price that turns out to be the actual price, you will end up with more "part time" business than you can handle in 1 year.


Showing up when you say, that will put you in the top 20% of contractors. If you do these two things too, you'll be in the top 10%. And yes, you will definitely have all the work you can stand.

(Watch out, though. That will mean you have to tell a lot of people "sorry". If you want to keep showing up every place and time you SAY you're going to show up, then you have to call a lot of people just to SAY "I can't show up then and there.")
 
Mike Cantrell
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Here's one more thing:

You may think you're in the chicken business, son, but you're not. You're in the people business.

It doesn't sound like you're trying to get into the chicken business specifically, but the point remains. I heard this from a sales manager at Tyson Chicken. The guy was in charge of a whole team of salesmen selling chicken quarters (just quarters) around the world. It would be easy to get confused and think that your success was going to correspond to your skill relating to chicken quarters. But it doesn't. Success corresponds to your skill in dealing with PEOPLE.

Fortunately, people skills are SKILLS. You can learn them, you can train them, and you can apply them better tomorrow than you did today.
 
Bradley Dillinger
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Location: Cincinnati,OH Zone 6a
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If you have any local Costco Stores, I would keep an eye open for positions. The lowest starting wage is 11.50 / hr with opportunities to advance. The average wage is $21/hr.
 
Dougan Nash
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Thanks a lot, guys. I really appreciate the time you took out of your days to give me advice. I'll take it all to mind and apply it to my situation.
 
Ann Torrence
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I have an idea for you: organize farm-to-table dinners. You know the culinary industry, you want to learn the ag side. You'll meet a ton of interesting people and start building a network of contacts for whatever you want to do next. And you don't have to quit your day job. And you'll be connecting people to farmers and making everyone happy.
 
John Master
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Zig Ziglar is famous for his quote, "you can have everything you want in life if you only help enough other people get what they want". figuring out what people want (and are willing to pay you for) that you provide them is the trick. Ann's idea sounds like it is a good one. our food system is a disaster and people want to know what they are eating, those farm to table dinners get big prices per plate, agro tourism is becoming a big enterprise you could take advantage of.
 
Alder Burns
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To attack the problem from the other side, is there a way to refinance the student loan at a lower rate, like other forms of debt? Alternative lending organizations (Lending Club, for example) often offer significantly lower rates....
 
Bash AlHa
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Location: Kuwait
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You seem like you're gonna be a great entrepreneur . a REBEL even ( in a good way ) .

Did you check Permaculture Artisans ? Erik Ohlsen started it small , volunteering , working with his hands and now he's making millions .
If you love growing / farming / permaculture , how about investing your time and energy into that .

money will definitely come .

best of luck x
 
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