Give Me Back My Five Bucks

Q1 Review: 2012 Goals

Financial

  • Earn $70,000. I chose this as my only financial goal this year because it just made sense to me. As a full-time freelancer, all of my other financial goals hinge on how much money I can earn – so it just didn’t make sense to create anything more specific. At the end of Q1, I needed to be at the $17,500 mark, and I currently sit at just over $18,000. So I’m right there, but I need to keep working hard.

Personal

  • Travel. By the end of the summer, we’ll have seen around 15 countries in Europe. Plus I’m starting to think about my trip to CPFC12 in September, and maybe heading down to NYC if possible. I’m most thrilled about securing sponsorship with HostelBookers.com though. It was something I never even considered as a possibility, but by the end of the summer, we will have saved thousands of dollars on accommodation costs.
  • Go on a trip by myself. Right now, my thought is the Canary Islands for a 4 or 5 day working vacation. The cost of a roundtrip flight is only €98, so it’s pretty tempting. Has anyone been there before? I’m a little nervous to do this on my own, but I think it will be really exciting (even if I’ll be working a lot of the time). I was also thinking Budapest. Or even going on both trips.
  • Learn basic German and French. I need to get over my fear and have my boyfriend teach me French. Although at this point, he thinks it would be hilarious to teach me French slang, instead of anything that might be useful to me the next time we go to Quebec. :) My German is also getting a bit better. I can usually understand the basics of what someone is asking me, but I can’t reply in German. Unless the reply is to say please, thank-you, or is a number between 1 and 5.
  • Read 12 novels not related to marketing or personal finance. CHECK! I have been destroying books left and right lately, and if you can believe it, I’ve already read 13 books! Those long train rides gives me tons of time to read, and I’m one of those people who just can’t put a book down once they’ve started reading it. In fact, I’ve joined the website GoodReads. If you’re on that website too, feel free to add me!

Professional

  • 2012 Canadian Personal Finance Conference. As of writing this post, there are only 6 tickets left to the conference! Everything is coming together, and I am so excited for this event, and all of the wonderful speakers, bloggers, and writers I’ll get to meet. To finally have all of Canada’s top personal finance names under one roof, sharing ideas … well, it’s going to be an incredible experience for sure.
  • Write one guest post each month on another blog. I’ve only gotten around to writing one guest post, and that was really just in interview-style. I’ve already got so much on my plate at the moment, plus I’m trying to work on another website, which has priority over writing guest posts.
  • Take all of my own photographs. So far I’ve been able to do this. It hasn’t been easy, but I plan on setting up a photo shoot sometime soon.
  • Post a new photo every day while abroad via Tumblr. Because I didn’t think you guys would want to be bombarded by a million photos of Europe while I’m gone, I decided to create a Tumblr account instead. I’ve been posting new photos every day, although sometimes I get a little behind. I’m also posting pictures via my Pinterest account.
  • Take on three steady freelance assignments. I think I’m on track with this. More opportunities are coming up. I’m steadily increasing my freelance income, and branching out into different areas.

Would you relocate for a better job?

In a perfect world, you would find your dream job without having to look very hard. You’d make good money, have great benefits, love your co-workers, and live exactly where you want to be.

Reality, however, is much different. You’ve probably spent weeks – or even months – trying to find a job in your city that meets all of the criteria you’re looking for – whether it’s salary, location, benefits, or the ideal industry. But only a few lucky people ever get the opportunity to find exactly what they want, where they want it. As for the rest of us? We’ve probably all gotten to the point where we start to consider relocating in an effort to widen our job search.

Just over four years ago, I found myself in a similar situation. I was living in my hometown of Victoria, BC, just about to complete a 12-month government contract position. I had applied to well over 20 different jobs in the city, and was getting discouraged. I was getting job offers for positions I ended up not being interested in, and was being rejected from the ones I really wanted. This led me to expand my job search not only to outside of my city, but also outside of my province. With only a few years of work under my belt, I thought I was willing to consider moving in an effort to gain more experience.

After weeks of phone calls and in-person interviews, I received two job offers – one was a marketing coordinator position for a non-profit organization in Vancouver that paid $40,000. The other was a communications manager position for a small city in Alberta that paid $57,000. The job required 5-7 years of experience, and I only had 2. But they flew me out for an interview, and when they called me a few days later, I was shocked that that they offered me the job. Even though I wasn’t exactly qualified, they said that they saw something special in me, and knew I could handle the job. To this day, that is the biggest compliment I have ever received during a job interview.

Logically, I should have taken the management position in municipal government and moved to Alberta. Not only did it pay (a lot) more, but it would have given me experience at a job (communications manager for an entire city? come on!) that I wouldn’t have been able to get for years (if ever) in Victoria or Vancouver.

But I ended up choosing the low-paying non-profit job in Vancouver instead. Here’s why:

Lack of a support network

It was extremely intimidating just thinking about leaving a place where I have friends, family, and a network of people that would be there to help me if I needed them. I’ve moved away from home before – to attend university in Michigan – and I was so homesick during that time, that I ended up coming home before I finished my degree. I didn’t want to leave, only to have the exact same thing happen. It wasn’t fair to me, or to my prospective employer.

Starting over in a new city

For some people moving to a new city is an adventure. It will take time to learn the city and the surrounding area, make new friends, and get comfortable. I knew that because I wasn’t planning on settling down in Alberta, starting over in a new city for less than 5 years just wasn’t worth it for me. If I was going to leave my hometown, I wanted to move to a city I could see myself living in for the foreseeable future.

Financial costs to relocating

Moving expenses can sometimes cost thousands of dollars – especially if relocating means you will have to fly instead of drive. Some costs associated with moving can be deducted on your tax return, but since you usually have to pay for the costs up front and get reimbursed later, many people looking for work just wouldn’t be able to afford it.

I was lucky that the employer was offering a generous $5,000 moving allowance. But moving all my stuff to another province wasn’t the only financial cost to relocation. I was a 3 hour drive from a major airport – meaning I would get less visits from friends and family, and I wouldn’t be able to afford to go home as often as I wanted. Living in Vancouver, my family and friends are only a 90 minute ferry ride away.

Opportunity for growth

With some occupations, only certain locations will offer you room for growth. As someone in marketing and communications, most opportunities are found in large cities. I knew that as soon as I outgrew the position in the town in Alberta, I would have nowhere to go, and would be forced to relocate again. I think it’s really important to weigh both the short-term and long-term benefits of any job, and where you could see yourself 5 or 10 years down the road if you decide to take a specific career path.

When I turned down the job in Alberta, they offered me more money to start, as well as a guaranteed raise after 6 months. It was an extremely attractive offer, and everyone thought I was a fool to turn it down. But you know what? Four years later, I’m still so happy with my decision. I couldn’t imagine how different my life would be had I chosen that path. I certainly wouldn’t have met so many great people in Vancouver. I wouldn’t be living in Germany, and I probably wouldn’t be a freelancer either.

With Statistics Canada revealing that there are 3.3 unemployed people in Canada for every job vacancy, if you don’t mind packing up and relocating to a new city, it might be easier to find the kind of job that you’re looking for. I wasn’t willing to do it 4 years ago, but I don’t think I can see myself living in Vancouver for the long-term, so who knows where I’ll end up down the road. :)

Would you consider relocation for a better job?

Spending Recap: March 19-25, 2012

Monday 19th
$2.51 (€1,90) Starbucks
$26.94 (€20,42) groceries

Tuesday 20th
No Spend Day!

Wednesday 21st
$2.51 (€1,90) Starbucks

Thursday 22nd
+ $442.43 freelance income
$4.62 (€3,50) Starbucks
$176.12 (€133,50) train ticket (roundtrip to Vienna)

Friday 23rd
No Spend Day! 

Saturday 24th
$50.69 (€38,42) groceries
$65.83 (€49,90) H&M
$32.92 (€24,95)
S. Oliver

Sunday 25th
$4.09 (€3,10) Starbucks
$274.52 flight (2x roundtrip to Rome in July)

WEEKLY EXPENSES– $640.75
WEEKLY INCOME+ $442.43

TOTAL: – $198.32

Well this was an expensive week, but absolutely worth it. We booked our train tickets to Vienna for this coming weekend, and I also bought us flights to Rome in July for Nic’s birthday! :) I snagged a RyanAir sale, so our flights were only $137.26 each.

As for my 4 trips to Starbucks this week (!), there’s not much I can say. Even though it costs money because I have to buy a tea or coffee, I’ve been going there more often to work, instead of the library. Starbucks is much more convenient to get to, the internet is much faster, it’s open later, and most importantly, I work better there for some reason. Maybe I’m just used to it because I always worked in coffee shops in Vancouver.

On Saturday we went shopping for summer clothes. The prices were a little hard to believe. For example, the Levis jeans that I always wear were $160 (€120), and in Canada they’re half the price. H&M was about 30% more expensive, as were any other stores we went to. I ended up buying a dress, skirt, shorts, and a blouse. Now I just need a couple of tank tops, and I’ll be set for the summer.

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