Confessions of a Laid-off Lawyer

Just Your Average Joe Blogging Away His Debt—In One Year or Less

Decisions, Decisions

with one comment

Total Black: -$46.81
Total Red: $226,473.48

So, out of the clear blue sky, opportunity knocked on my door.  A really interesting, challenging, and rewarding job opportunity.  One I’ve sought for years, which has eluded me.  So why am I now apprehensive?

Naturally, since this prospective job opportunity hasn’t yet materialized, I can’t provide too many specifics.  And what specifics I could say about the position, I’m not going to out of an abundance of caution.  What I can say, however, is that this opportunity would require me to leave New York and move to a location over 1,600 miles away, for at least a year.  And if I understand the situation correctly, if given the job, I’d have to relocate fairly quickly.

So, let’s just put off to the side for one moment the headache and hassle involved either in finding someone to sublet my apartment, and allow nearly all of my personal property to remain, or vacating the apartment entirely and moving it all into my mother’s basement.  That alone could take weeks.  It’s a hassle, but I can make it happen.  And I’m sure, given my recent interactions with the landlord’s management company, they’d be too happy to have someone else in the space, either via sublet or new tenant.  Likewise, hauling property back and forth to my mother’s, whether partially or in full, would be a pain but I can make that happen too.  But what’s keeping me up at night, so to speak, is the opportunity itself and whether I’m in the right place to take it: emotionally, mentally, and of course financially.

The position would pay about $45,000—before taxes.  But I’d still have to make all the same ends meet on just that amount; I’m unsure whether any moonlighting is permitted.  And, I’d be moving there with all the same debts I have here.  Just like American Express, you certainly don’t leave home, or move your home, without them.  And, even though I wouldn’t be living in New York City any longer, with its high cost of living, I would be relocating to a fairly expensive alternative with rent around $1,200 – $1,500 a month—at least according to a relocation website I checked.  Plus, I might have to buy a car to get around as public transportation isn’t really a viable alternative there.  Car insurance, though there are low-cost options available, would be yet another expense.

Here’s one big catch though: the opportunity would pay dividends for years to come in career development and opportunities.  Which is why I’m struggling with this—prematurely, of course, because nothing has been offered just yet.  And I know my mother would help me make the relocation, however much she could.  But she certainly couldn’t afford to supplement my income for the year—nor should she.  But the larger question I’m left with is when must one pass up a career opportunity because of financial constraints.  Aren’t I in this situation, at least partly, because of a significant disregard for the financial ramifications, or at least consequences, of my actions?  How would my behavior be any different than if I jumped at some other risky venture?

Assuming that working as a contract attorney and as an usher remained the same as far as wages and employment, I’d earn approximately $78,000 from the contract attorney position fifty-two weeks from now (after taxes) and another $10,000 (after taxes) from the theatre gig—for a combined total of roughly $88,000,  after taxes.  Yet I’d earn half of that—and before taxes at that—through this relocation opportunity.  Sure, $24,000 of that $88,000 would be gobbled up in NYC rent.  But that’s assuming I stay in my same apartment or don’t get a roommate.  And, roughly $12,000 (at $1,000 / month, let’s say) of the $45,000 would be equally snatched up by rent in the new location—leaving me with only $33,000 to pay bills and all other expenses, and again that’s before taxes.

So, once again I’m face-to-face with the reality I stumbled upon in August: that I just might not be able to afford a lower-paying job just yet.  I set out on this journey to get out of debt in a year.  Slowly, it’s happening.  Especially in regard to debts one cannot defer or forebear.  Would it be a misstep to let everything come crashing down if I couldn’t make minimum payments on credit cards, student loans, back taxes, not to mention my mother, etc., just to jump at a career opportunity?

And, there’s another development, albeit not one I’d let sway me.  But I’m feeling New York tugging at my heart-strings.  Quite unexpectedly at that.  I’ve always maintained that I would not call New York home.  And I still feel that way.  I don’t foresee myself as a sixty-five year-old strap-hanger.  But if I left right now, I don’t know if I’d return to New York after this year away.  Return to what?  Being a contract attorney again?  Resuming my off-Broadway ushering position?  So, really, I don’t know if I’m ready yet to leave.  In many ways, it feels like I’m just starting to get my pace on this financial treadmill.  And even though I’m burning that candle at both ends, and the midnight oil to boot, I’m enjoying it.  I like paying my bills.  And the contract attorney position is helping to accomplish that.  Yes, I’d much rather a six-figure income working at the Department of Justice, but that’s just not viable right now.  And therefore, I’m happy with my theatre gig too.  Plus I like being close enough to my mother such that she could visit for the day.  And I’m liking getting to know this city as a New Yorker and not an outsider—a status I proudly clung to for the first two years I lived here.

But no, I wouldn’t let those tugs keep me from this chance.  And I am following through on this opportunity.  As a colleague here atthe contract attorney position quoted to me, “Don’t block your blessings.”  Opportunity knocked.  I certainly won’t ingratiate her (or him) by slamming the door.  But I just hope, if that door does opens, and I walk through, that I can stick it out on the other side.  I would do my finances and my career nothing good by winding up back in New York or with my mother because I had to bow-out prematurely from the relocation opportunity, and ending up worse off than I am now.

Written by Laid-off Lawyer

March 2, 2010 at 23:59

One Response

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  1. Dude, you seriously need to find 1-2 roommates and move to an outer borough. You should be paying more than $500/month rent given your income and your debt load.


    March 8, 2010 at 21:42

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