Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Gaining Miles

Xmichra Answers

This was sent to Aunt Babz via email...

Dear Aunt Babz,

Good Evening, I was curious on how to start my life in the right
track. Im 21 and cant get back into school(which in
consideration I dont have and post secondary except
for a few remedial classes) I have tremendous debt
(around the 15,000 range give or take a 1000 dollars)
and have been looking for a job for the past 1 and a
half. I dont have any constant income let alone any Im
21 years old and have no /way to turn. No special
talents or hobbies except for boxing but I have a hard
time just getting there because I never have enough
gas in my car. I really dont have any real friends and
the ones I do are in worser situations then I am. The
only thing that I do hold dearly to me is my faith and
my mother. I dont know nobody in a position to help me
what should I do. It seem s as is nothing can go my
way if it aint one thing its the other you now. I try
so hard to give the little that I have but It seems as
they take my kindness for weekness, I also need a way
to get these tattoos off my hands

Dear Friend,

Your dilemma is a common one in this day and age, where you feel like you are being trapped in that rut and unable to get out of it. How one gets out however is very uncommon, if for the only reason is how you will do it, it changes and is different for everyone.

Luckily you are twenty one and not fifty one, which shouldn’t matter but it does have an exceedingly higher opportunity to change and get help for that change (although I may add here that age is no limit for those who really want a change).

Let me tell you, I had a tough time in my early twenties (I am 31 this year) and had very similar problems. I moved out on my own when I was sixteen, and had acquired the debt of a thirty year old by the time I was twenty three. Not fun. I also had not completed my post secondary education, and had a student loan tacked on to remind me of what I had not accomplished. I was married by twenty three, no stable employment and debt. Lots of things started to look very bleak and I wasn’t sure how on earth I was going to get out of it all, very much like you.

So I will tell you what I did, and a few paths you can choose, and hopefully we can start back on the path to the rest of your long and good life.

My parents lived pretty far away, and I had no support financially, from anyone but myself. I didn’t have a very good job, but I did at one point have three not very good jobs. Trust me, this leaves little room for anything else… but if you want to get out of debt quickly you can take that road. I lasted a matter of six months before I was so sleep deprived that I finally gave two up. But in that six months I managed to make a sizable dent on my debt. And these were not high paying jobs. They were all minimum wage, no education required. I worked as a waitress in the early morning, worked at a convenience store in the afternoon and then as a bartender at night.

You can imagine the lack of sleep, but these were all part time jobs as well, so it left a little wiggle room. The one thing I can say I loved about this is that I had three different places to work and didn’t get bored or upset because of the small amount of time I was spending in each place. It’s a lot different when you are working one job for 16 hours a day as opposed to three jobs, four hours each for sixteen hours a day. And that is what kept me going in reality, because of the constant change I was usually happy to be there and eager to work. Which makes a huge difference in your cash flow, especially when you are working for tips.

That is one thing I would suggest as well, work a job that tips out. Even if it is only for a few hours a day, you have your regular pay plus that little extra, which could make the difference of a five dollar an hour job turn out to be a twenty dollar an hour job. But beware, you will need to set that aside and deposit into your bank account because free pocket money becomes spending money, and that is the last thing you need right now.

After that six months I decided to keep the one waitress job. It was worth the most amount of money (when you include tips) and I was able to acquire more hours since I was a reliable employee. Big word that is, reliable. Being reliable and hard working will gain you MILES when trying to make your way up in the world. Even with a minimum wage job, always think that you are working for your future. So I had this waitress job, and I made a few life choices. Those were, no drugs, no drinking (except on birthdays and the like) no extra spending (like buying the newest CD or going to the theater for a movie). These are all luxuries, not musts. You do need to enjoy yourself though, so I would rent a movie and make popcorn at home. I would go to the grocery store and buy a dinner for six (cheaply made, spaghetti or lasagna makes a powerful dinner with little cost) a couple bottles of wine (which are looked at being classy but cost very little) and invite friends over for dinner. I would go to the park with a few buddies, pack a picnic (another cheap solution, cut sandwiches veggies and dip) and toss a Frisbee around for a few hours. All things that are cheap and you can usually get more than one person in on the cost if you are really truly broke. Just keep in mind that if it costs more than forty bucks, it will likely not be worth the time getting out of debt.

Every single pay check that I had, I would take out ten percent and that would be mine. No one else’s. Everything else would go to bills and food and debt… which seems like such a crap shoot, but you do need something for you. Later, when I became a little more established I still took that ten percent and put it into savings bonds, great habit to get into. You just need to get there, and you will.

But I think the best thing that I did for myself was to never sell myself short. I would do extra things for my employers to gain more experience and more skills. I was twenty seven when I had my daughter, and still not making near what I do now. But when I came back off of maternity leave (which was tough financially) I went back to work for Tim Hortons ( I had worked there for a year before I went on maternity leave) and started to really build my way up. I was honest, reliable and quick on my feet, which got me to supervisor. I was smart with numbers and people, which in another nine months made me a branch manager. Then after proving that I could do the ordering of all the supplies and scheduling I was promoted to the store manager. Once I had this skill and length of service under my belt I was able to look for something that was more my style. I applied with an oilfield firm to do their accounts payable. I had absolutely no experience other then the loyalty and fantastic job record from Tim Hortons. That got me the job, along with a very good interview. I had it in my head that I could do that job, and would be an asset to the firm, and I got it. Those stepping-stones got me to where I am today, I am a human resources manager with a major retail company, and I am paid well and respected. I can go to the movies, eat at restaurants, and enjoy my time. It just took awhile to get here.

So, what was the point of all that? Work hard, don’t give up, cut back on expenses.

Now, you had said that you have no real support and that you hold your faith and your mother close to your being. I am sure that if your mother could help you she would, but it sounds as though she is not in the best of situations to do that. So lets explore your other strength and that is your faith. Although I am not a religious person, I know that religious factions have multiple branches of help. Your particular branch likely convenes at a particular time and date for ceremonies. If I were you I would attend those as often as possible, because if there is one thing that I feel you are missing is the bond of a true friend. Friendships occur when you have similar interests, and often when you are involved with the same things. Going to such factions can really help you with making friends that have similar goals, and also help you to feel good. I have not been to many such ceremonies that didn’t leave its patrons feeling at least a little better about themselves. And you need that strength, and if that is what you hold dear, that is what you should do.

Also, in many churches and factions of that type, there are plenty of opportunities for growth. Many times I have employed members of the church on good faith, because their parishioner had put in a good word. And I can think of none that have remotely come to disappoint me or my fellow co-workers. These factions also have things like food drives if you are so in debt that you need help just getting by, clothing banks and second hand stores to furnish your place. All helping solutions that most ‘good will’ places use to help others out.

Now, I don’t know how different it is between where you live and I live, but here we also have an education team that teams up with the churches and helps underprivileged people gain employment skills. Those skills include typing, computer knowledge, basic accounting, mechanics, plumbing and the like. These skills are a great start to get you into a job as an apprentice, and can make for a huge pay off. I know that one of my friends did this with the mechanics, and became an apprentice. He was making slightly higher then minimum wage, but after a year his employer paid for his schooling as long as he maintained his employment with that employer for the duration of the schooling plus one year. A lot of trades will do this because of the high demand for good people, and they are investing in their company by training the right people and having them devoted to their company for five years (as opposed to hiring a journeyman mechanic with no real loyalty and having that person get a different job in a year. Sometimes experience and education doesn’t matter all the time, it is the longevity of service and willingness to stay focused). I worked for that oil field firm and saw this happen all the time. More often then not, the person stayed with the company long after the ‘deal’ because they felt that the company had done so much for them and they were happy to be in a company like that. Really great way of hiring I say.

Also, I am not sure where you live, but if you qualify for employment insurance, welfare, social assistance and the like… they usually have programs for individuals to gain the knowledge they need to gain meaningful employment and to get you back into the work force. You just need to be the one who asks, and you need to truly stick with the things that they want you to do. Some people find that it is a ‘waste of time to go over things that you already know… but I ask this, what time exactly are you wasting? The time you are currently not working and unemployed? Very silly way to think. These people are employed to help others out, and are trained to help and educate. Think of the things that you think you know as a refresher, and that everything takes steps to learn. The only thing I would keep in mind is that the natures of programs are supposed to be used to help you get back on your feet, not to sustain your life. So if you do travel this path, I urge you to keep that fact in mind and to respect the provisions.. And maybe one day give back with time, money or support. Those are just a few paths, getting into an apprenticing job, social assistance, church outreach programs, working your way through a low paying job. But no matter what the path you choose, trust me if you want to make a go of this life only you have the power to harness it. Only you can brush the dust off when you feel you have fallen, and only you can decide that you are not going to settle for second best.The tattoos might be a little more difficult.

Removal of tattoos is expensive and very painful. I had one removed, and that was NOT fun. But a somewhat easier solution is to buy cover up. I see this done all the time. Brides not wanting the skull tattoo on the back of their necks showing for their big romantic day, they use cover up to mask it. I use a thicker mattee cover up on my tattoo on my ankle when i am wearing a skirt and have a business function to attend. It works rather well. The only thing that may hinder you is gaining employment that requires you to work with water (like a dish washer, a car wash jockey, a waiter). So in that regard, i would be upfront with the employer and tell them that you will do your best to cover them up, but it is going to be tough with water around. Things may take a little while ( I know for me it did), but you are not done by any stretch of the imagination. Good luck, and let us know what you find out.

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