This is a really interesting story that I thought I would share with all of you. I do have a few comments below, but I thought I would let Kelly tell her story (I edited this email a bit to eliminate some privacy concerns and polish a few tiny grammar issues):
I wanted to write to you and tell you that your site convinced me to quit my job and make some other big changes in my life. I have been trying to get ahead for a while now but I didn’t know what to do. Your site helped me a lot and thank you.
I am twenty years old. I did not go to college after high school mostly because none of my friends did. I stayed in my home town and got a job about thirty miles away making $12 an hour as a factory worker. It didn’t have any health insurance or anything so there were no real benefits other than $12 an hour for someone out of high school. I thought about taking some classes at a college but every night I came home really tired and so I never did anything.
It took me about forty five minutes to drive there every day and I used a gallon of gas each way plus I paid about a dollar in toll each way. That means $8 each day plus my car insurance and all the extra miles on my car.
When I read your site about figuring what your time is worth (note: I’m guessing this article) I spent some time thinking about it and with the cost of my car and the insurance and the gas and the time to go to work I realized I was wasting a lot of time and money. In fact I figured out that my real hourly wage at work was about $7 an hour for a job I hated.
So I started looking around town and I found a job as a waitress at a restaurant that paid $4 an hour plus all tips. I trained there on Saturdays and Sundays and found I could make $10 an hour easy working there and way more on busy shifts. Plus I could walk there since it was only four blocks away and get there in ten minutes.
I quit my job at the factory and now I’m working four weeknights and a weekend night at the restaurant. Even though it pays less on paper than my old job I have more money in my pocket because I don’t spend money on the car and I don’t buy my lunch in the cafeteria because it’s free at work. I sold my car too and I signed up to take some classes at the college during the week days using the car money. I can take the city bus to classes and back home, then walk to work.
Before I read your site I thought I was doing the right thing working at the factory but I felt like I could not do anything to help myself. You got me to think about what else I could be doing and that the best paying job isn’t always the one that will give you the most money. I am taking English classes now and I can already write better than before. I want to try to become a technical writer.
This email was one of the best things I’ve read since starting this site – I feel like something I’ve written went out there into the darkness, touched someone, and profoundly changed them. Some thoughts:
She traded her car for an education. To me, this spoke highly of the maturity of this twenty year old. When I was twenty, I can’t say that I would have made such a choice – it takes some serious bravery to go without a car in those heady youthful times. The truth is, though, that it was the right choice – with her job and her classes available by foot and by public transport, she doesn’t have a major day-to-day need for a car right now, and the ongoing cost of the car (insurance and any payments she might be making) would just drag her down. Plus, that car money opened the door to education.
She likely also came up with health coverage. Depending on the college (I got the impression that it was a smaller liberal arts college, not a community college, but I may be wrong), she might have access to health coverage via her student fees at the school – at the very least, access to a student health center. If that’s the case, then she is in substantially better shape than before having no health coverage at all.
She’s investing her energy in herself instead of giving it away to a factory. During the daytime hours during the week when her energy and focus are peaking, she’s attending classes to better herself. Her job, in terms of when her concentration is peaking, is secondary, as it should be when you have a job to afford to live, not trying to build a career.
She quit her job to take a lower paying one – and it was probably the best personal finance move of her life.