My financial history, and stop whining about your job

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I tell people all the time to change their job if they don’t like it, and people tell me this is totally impractical advice. A lot of people write to me to say that my advice only applies to rich people. Or they tell me that single parents, families living paycheck to paycheck, people in debt, cannot use my advice.

I think these people are in denial. Of course, there are exceptions, but usually these people are really saying that the things they have in their current standard of living are more important than being happy in their job. That’s fine. But don’t complain that the advice doesn’t apply to you. It does. You choose to have an expensive lifestyle instead.

I want to tell you a short history of my financial life. It is so unstable that when I told my brothers that I was writing for Yahoo Finance, they thought it was a joke. And then they got concerned for me that Yahoo would find out the real me, and I’d lose my job.

My bank account looked very good when I was running my own companies. They were well funded, and I extracted a large salary from investors — on top of equity — because it used to be okay to do that. The year my husband and I moved to New York City, I earned more than $200,000.

I had never lived in New York City before. But I had seen photos of John and Carolyn Kennedy coming out of their Tribeca loft, and I figured that’s where I would live with my husband. It was a harsh reality when I discovered that our combined income would need to be in the millions in order to have a loft in Tribeca. So we moved into a one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn that was so small that I had to buy storage for all my books. And just about everything else, too.

Then the World Trade Center fell. I was there, and my being there changed me and my husband. We both realized we wanted kids right away, and we wanted to change careers: Bye-bye big paychecks.

My husband started volunteering at human rights organizations. I became a freelance writer and had a poverty-level income for New York City. Then we had a baby. I want to tell you that we lived off our savings for a while, but we didn’t. It lasted about nine months in New York City.

That’s when we realized we had to totally shift our lifestyle to accommodate our work choices. We made big decisions. We stopped being friends with people who couldn’t stop ordering $70 bottles of wine at dinner. We didn’t go to the beach because we didn’t have a car to get there, and besides, beach passes were too expensive.

Soon, we found ourselves making almost every decision based on money, and we didn’t want to live that way. So after a lot of research, we moved out of New York City. We moved to Madison, Wisconsin. I write a lot about how we chose Madison, but the bottom line is that we looked for the city with the lowest cost of living that we could be happy in. (Other runners-up, in case you’re interested: Minneapolis, Portland (Oregon), and Austin.)

Once we got to Madison, things changed. Money was not nearly such a big issue. We became more flexible, we have more freedom in our decision making. I’m not going to tell you that Madison is a bastion of culture and innovation. It’s not. But if you want to live in a bastion of culture and innovation, it’ll cost you. In personal flexibility.

If you want personal stability, flexibility to find fulfilling work, and meaningful personal relationships, that’s about as much as you can ask for in life. That’s a lot. All the other stuff is secondary. Great if you can get it, but not as important as this stuff. I am not positive, but I have a feeling that I do not need to live in a major city in order to get these three things.

If you want to have the ability to change careers and quit jobs you don’t like and try out new things, then you might need to make huge life decisions to accommodate that. I have friends in San Francisco who had only one kid so they could afford to keep their low-paying jobs. This is a big decision. I have friends who are moving from the center of Portland to the boondocks of Portland so they can afford for one of them to be a stay-at-home parent.

I’m not saying you have to live in rural Alabama or forgo having kids. I’m saying you need to be an adult, and realize that adults make big decisions. Things don’t just happen to you. You have power to decide what your life will be like.

And if you set your life up so you can’t change jobs, take personal responsibility for that. It didn’t just happen to you. You are making decisions about that.

183 replies
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  1. Eltaria
    Eltaria says:

    Hi Penelope, I dropped by your site while I was googling on job hopping, and I’m glad I did.

    I found your thoughts to be great advice, and as you mentioned in one of your other posts, you’re being a great mentor to lots of people through your blog!

    Thanks! Me and countless others definitely appreciates your posts!

  2. Stacey
    Stacey says:

    Interesting post. And a conversation I have all too frequently with my husband. Do you keep the job you aren’t thrilled with – after all it’s work with a good paycheck – or do you make less money and have a job you love. It’s a tough decision made tougher as you hit the age where you have a mortgage, 2 cars, and want to retire young.

    Making a choice on where to live and how you’re willing to live is a choice of adulthood and one so many people have trouble making. The American dream has become one of wanting it all. Bravo for calling people on it.

  3. Greg Paskill
    Greg Paskill says:

    There’s definitely value in seeing what parts of a career you can control, as suggested by the conclusion, “And if you set your life up so you can't change jobs, take personal responsibility for that.”

    And then there’s one part that gets covered so little in this pick-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps land of Anything’s Possible America. As hard as you might work, there’s still one thing you can’t do — “hire yourself!”

    Yes, there is one other human being in this equation who may even more petrified than job candidates in career change. Plenty of people are ready, able and willing to display transferrable skills. Question then becomes, is the employer willing to welcome them?

    Sorry, I don’t buy my fellow employers’ modern day cry that there aren’t enough qualified people in this country, so they must look offshore.

    Domestically, I also wonder about the 121 publishers who rejected the title _Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance_. Was it the author who was at fault, or was it the many editors who didn’t want to take a chance on that “unproven” writer? Similarly, how many capable people are rejected every day by employers who are too fearful of making a hiring mistake?

    Transitions are possible when BOTH sides of the hiring equation are willing to commit. Until the day each laborer can legally print their own money, employers too must stop their whining.

    • Kev
      Kev says:

      And then there’s one part that gets covered so little in this pick-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps land of Anything’s Possible America. As hard as you might work, there’s still one thing you can’t do – “hire yourself!”

      Sure you can; ever heard of starting your own business? It might guarantee that you never work a day as short as “9-to-5” again, but chances are, you’d be doing something you loved. And there’s also a pretty good chance that your boss wouldn’t be a jerk. ;-)

  4. Anna
    Anna says:

    I live in SF, close to NYC in expensive cost of living. After the dot-com bomb, many recent arrivals (that came w/ the dot com thing) were shocked that they couldn’t afford it anymore and had to leave. I was sad to see them go, but not surprised. I am here for a variety of reasons, and I’ve thought about living elsewhere, but family and career interests, along with a history of this place, keeps me here. But it’s certainly not a privilege! I sacrifice things- and I totally understand how it’s not valuable to others. They want the driveway, the biking to work (portland!), the better schools for less $$, not having to have a double income household to raise kids, etc. It’s like I sense this idea of entitlement, that SF should be cheap, whereas I totally understand why it’s not.

  5. David
    David says:

    That's “real talk;” I moved our family into a Southern California Golf Community about 9 months prior to the market topping out (and we’ll be paying the price for the decision). However, when you get up and “schlep” to work, you do want a retreat to return to from work (albeit, temporal, but that's a different thread). So, at the end of the day, I believe if the relationships outside of work are working, stomaching a “bad” position may be a little more tenable, until such time that a better position comes along.

  6. Do Good
    Do Good says:

    Okay, I followed a long and winding path starting at Yahoo and ending up here at this post, where I see a flurry of activity surrounding a post made my Heather Mundell. But if you look closely, I believe the offending post in question was actually made by “Corfusion” and NOT Heather Mundell. I get confused sometimes by the placement of names of authors in weblog comments (does the name go with the post above? or the post below?), and it looks like others made that same mistake. Ordinarily, this probably wouldn’t bother me enough to warrant submitting a comment, but today it just struck me as wrong. And now I can sleep soundly tonight, knowing I’ve done my good deed (however tiny) for the day.

    (BTW, love love love your weblog… will be back for more.)

  7. Carina
    Carina says:

    I agree with Penelope’s stance on taking responsibility for one’s own actions and life direction. It’s important to remind ourselves everday that were not the victims of our own decisions.

  8. Rufus
    Rufus says:

    Hey I stumbled onto this blog because I was to know if legal secretaries have to make coffee or not ?

    But this post intrigued me because I am not sure what the message of it all is. I’m 23 and I cannot get my foot in the door to anything. Secure 9-5 jobs that pay a good living wage seem so hard to come by, like school teacher or a police office.

    I think maybe my expectations are too high and I should not believe I am entitled to what my parents had, apparently so easily (according to them). When there is so much suffering in the world I feel guilty, I have food and computer and internet just by doing my job: stacking shelves.

    Then I read about $200,000 salaries and $70 bottles of wine I get to thinking that I won’t ever have those types of choices. I’m stuck down the bottom with no flexibility to adjust the way I live. I am what I am and it looks like I have no choice.

    Everything seems so hard to get into for a steady living wage job.. I don’t want to sound like I believe I am entitled to anything. I’m just wondering why it seems atm that everything is beyond my capabilities. It just seems everything I try to do has an enormous number of applicants and few positions. And it does get me to asking question, why I see older people with so much more money and opportunities who are wondering what city to live in, and contemplating how high they want their next salary package to be. Why can’t I have my steady 9-5 er.

    I am not the best but I have worked hard and done everthing I was told to do. I don’t want to take over the world I want to be a good follower and I am wondering why there is no place for me ?

  9. christine perkett
    christine perkett says:


    I receive your newsletter and read your blog and am often touched. I admire the gutsy approach you take to life, relationships, work and writing. I hope the move has worked for you. The beauty of today’s workplace is that it really can be anywhere. I founded a virtual company 10 years ago and have been pioneering the options and choice for women like you – and me – ever since. With the ability to pursue quality careers and live where our lives can be enriched (whether through a slower pace, culture, weather, etc.) – our lives and careers will continue to get better and better.

  10. Prabhu
    Prabhu says:

    You write that you could not keep up with the expensive lifestyle of NYC so you moved to Madison, WI. Nothing wrong with Madison, but doing that appears so un-American, which is all about upward mobility and climbing social/economic ladder. Oh, how much I wish that you had written how you went about maximizing your earnings and upgraded your lifestyle in New York!

  11. Heather Mundell
    Heather Mundell says:

    Thank you to “Do Good” for “clearing my name” above! I have just stumbled onto this thread after Googling myself and am glad that I am not being credited with the inflammatory comments made by “Corfusion”…

  12. Pirate Jo
    Pirate Jo says:

    “Nothing wrong with Madison, but doing that appears so un-American, which is all about upward mobility”

    Hey, who says that’s NOT upward mobility? Who is the best person to judge the quality of a life but the person living it?

    Forgive me if I’m already happy with the modest condo I live in and the 9-year-old car I drive. Maybe MY idea of upward mobility is being able to take enough time off work that I can spend half the year biking around America? You want to work for a McMansion and a car payment, be my guest.

  13. Ken Forester
    Ken Forester says:


    I agree with you. We all have to find job and life options that are best for us. Money is important but JOB SECURITY is most important to get that peace of mind and security in life. I am speaking from past experience. In my present job I make less than before but my Job Security Score has gone up from 660 to 742 ( ). I would advice everyone to find jobs that satisfies their apetite for job security.


  14. Lara
    Lara says:

    Hello. I do think this is a very good post. I currently am trying desperately to fix the situation I am in. I made porr decisions in my past. I racked up too much student loan debt due to being indecisive (though I do have a fairly impressive transcript) I am currently in a career that I absolutely hate. I would love to take your advice, but I am afraid I am among the very small percentage that really, truly can’t. (or at least have not found a way how as of yet.) I went to an intense program to get this career. I’ve accumulated a lot of debt from that as well. I am with a man who I am completely in love with. We’ve been together for 3 1/2 years. We live a very modest living in South Dakota. We are in the cheapest place we could find. My boyfriend has four kids and pays almost 50% of his income to in child supprt (as he should). I make twice what he does, and there is just absolutely no way we would afford to live if I did not make what I was making. Please, if someone knows a way, I’d be happy to hear it. We live nearly paycheck to paycheck because of our debt. I am currently looking for a second job to try to help us get out of debt. Anyways… I would love to find a way out of this mess, especially because this career has made made me completely and utterly miserable… and it’s all my fault for making the wrong career choice and going into debt because of it.

    • mysticaltyger
      mysticaltyger says:

      You still have choices, Lara. A lot of people would never get involved with someone who paid half their income in child support for 4 kids. They’d find someone to love who either had a higher income or who didn’t have 4 kids to support. Love is important, but it’s not enough all by itself to sustain a long term relationship.

      You’re trying to have it all here. And you can’t. That’s what Penelope is saying about making adult choices. There’s nothing wrong with the choices you made. But you do have other options that involve making tough choices.

  15. Lara
    Lara says:

    please forgive the spelling/grammar errors above… I am so upset right now.. I just couldn’t edit very well… I just can’t take this career much longer and I can’t afford not to continue… I am at the lowest point I have ever been in my life and am desperate for a way out of this… please

  16. Tiffany
    Tiffany says:

    Hi Penelope,

    This post was awesome! I totally echo your sentiments about being an adult and making choices that make you happy. I have left a few jobs because I thought I would be happy and I wasn’t. Sure I struggled for a while but I got right back up because I know that I control my destiny. There are so many jobs out there and so many career choices that you shouldn’t limit yourself. If you want a change, you have to change. Who is going to take care of you better than yourself? No one. No more worrying about what society feels, its all about your mental health and your happiness. Thanks for the advice!

  17. Aviva Gabriel
    Aviva Gabriel says:

    I mostly agree with you – for most situations and for most people, taking responsibility for a job change is essential. It’s too easy to do the “Yes, but…” routine, and too easy to feel victimized by scary circumstances or perceived “deprivations.”

    But come on, now. What are you going to say to the mother earning $8.50 an hour who stays at her horrible job and settles for the wage because…there are no other employers in her town, she has no car and no credit, and there are no day care situations that she can afford on $8.50 an hour – outside of the nearby aunt or friend who’ll watch her kid(s) for a pittance?

    I mean, really. What kind of bootstrapping is this mother going to do, realistically speaking, to emerge from such a situation?

    If she can’t buy a car, and there’s no public transportation, and the only apartment she can afford on $8.50 an hour is a one-room studio behind a general store on Main Street in a small Vermont town…what in the dickens is this mother gonna do? If she’s a single mom without a “tribe” or extended family around…how the hell is she gonna get herself to job interviews, even?

    Here’s the deal: She’s got a job that’s a relatively short walk from her studio apartment. Her two kids can walk with her to the neighbor who sticks them in front of the TV all day. The studio apartment is so tiny that the landlord throws in the heat – and oil, in Vermont winters, at $4.00+ per gallon is gonna eat up more than half of her takehome pay from every single check – forget rent, forget food, forget diapers – and when I say food, I mean rice, beans, and dented cans of food on sale – and I won’t even mention that the mother and her two kids are sleeping on a double mattress on the floor of the studio apartment because it’s got sloping walls from being in the dormer of the roof on the third floor of the farmhouse – how the hell is she going to even get DRESSED for a job interview, let alone GET to the job interview? And if she GOT another job? Who’s driving her? Who’s lending her money for a car payment? And what makes anyone think that she’ll find anything for more than…let’s say $9.00 an hour!? Big whoopie! For THIS wage increase, she’s going to what? Move? Hitchhike to work? Take her kids with her to work?

    I think, hopefully, that you get the picture. There are people in jams. Poor people like this mother. Families with autistic or disabled children. Middle-class people with troubled teens who can’t be dragged out of a particular school system. Fathers working two jobs to pay for a child’s uninsured or underinsured surgery. Families with kids reaching college age…and an elderly parent with Alzheimer’s who needs round-the-clock care?

    How can you KNOW – with such conviction – that ALL people can, and should, “change their job if they don’t like it”…?

    Have you ever gone to work for three days with only a glass of milk or a slice of dry bread for your entire three meals – until a paycheck with an hour of overtime pay allowed you to buy a day’s groceries? Or a windfall happened…maybe you found a $5.00 bill blowing down the road after flying out of a passing car’s window?

    Not everyone can bootstrap themselves out of bad employment situations. People of relative privilege, whether it be privilege of money, or education, or nearby friends and family, or some kind of support system – yes. They can put up with a little fear and go without their luxuries and make incremental moves up the food chain.

    But there ARE people in this world who are truly stuck, at least for the foreseeable future.

    Your blog is fantastic in so many ways, but there’s an arrogance about it’s proclamations that really bothers me. It’s the arrogance of privilege – the kind of privilege that shields one from ever having to face pervasive, deeprooted, and unrelenting hardship.

  18. zenia
    zenia says:

    I totally agree with you I have lived in 3 major urban cities so far, Philly, NYC and Miami We are currently in NYC bec of my husband job but after 6 months of unsuccf career search on my part I have come to the conclusion that we’ll probably need to moved out the problem is to decide where.
    Thank x so much for your comment is what I tell my husband all the time money is not everything in life it should be a balance of all things.

  19. Walter
    Walter says:

    These days it is all about taking action and making things happen. There is no such thing as job or financial security. Things can change from day to day. Just look at what happened with the economy. Thriving companies in growing industries have been reduced to nothing.

  20. Maria Killam
    Maria Killam says:

    I just love your blog, I never know where I’ll end up because each post leads to another one I read because of your links. You say stuff that has always been in my head but that I’ve never seen written down much less even articulated even to myself. I get a lot of freedom from the freelance designer life I’ve chosen for myself by reading your experiences. You are so great! Thanks for the great writing!!

  21. Anon
    Anon says:

    I don’t know why I come back to this blog–frankly, I think Penelope is an asshole who uses men to get what she wants and in the workplace would treat other women like absolute shit. Maybe that’s why men seem to love this blog.

  22. Amy
    Amy says:

    I agree. And I giggled when you said that you don’t have to live in rural Alabama…I drive through a town in rural Alabama on my way to a beach in FL — one of those towns where if you blinked, you’d miss it — and my mind wanders there when I’m fighting Atlanta traffic or feel like I just need to slow down more…

    I’ve lived in NYC, Boston, Atlanta, and just spent the summer testing San Fran to see if it would be worth the relocation. I work from home for a Bay area software company and can work from anywhere, which at first sounded exciting since I’m single, no kids and could really pick up and move (if I could sell my house, that is)…great adventure in theory…but, I’m in my mid-30’s now, and that “see the world” mentality I had in my 20’s isn’t me so much anymore. For one, I’m at lot less willing to put up with as much (like your storage fix just to fit into your Brooklyn apartment). After San Fran, I realized how lucky I was to have the home I had, although a 100+ year old historical home in Eufaula, AL, with double wraparound porches still sounds dreamy. I’m starting to appreciate that the real luxury I now have with being able to live anywhere is that I can now stay home longer in KY to visit friends and family, instead of just a weekend or for a holiday…it almost feels like I’m making up for lost time even from my moving around in my 20’s.

    If there’s anything I’ve learned with having less money or by living in a smaller town is that you really find out how creative you can be…the lifestyle affords it and nearly forces you to do so, and that’s a blessing. I’d take it any day taking on a “second job” in NYC of trying to live there…the daily emotional, physical and financial job of just getting around.

  23. Kent Wedding Photographer
    Kent Wedding Photographer says:

    Taking the plunge to change a lifestyle is a massive choice. If you’ve only ever worked for someone else and never set up your own business, you will never know how difficult this can be. Making the choice to have no money for the next five years is a big one but the rewards are so much greater. True you actually tend to work more hours and unsociable hours but the reward is being your own boss, making deciscions and living by them. My wedding photography business took a while to really get going and a few years to pay back the investment, I work weekends but I do something that I’m good at and enjoy!

  24. bret
    bret says:

    HI penelope,

    I am glad to see that you have the courage to say things that needs to be said (aspies tend to do that) despite the emotional ramifications on your readers. This is a good “tough love” approach that might shake up the unmotivated and lazy people. However, i must say that telling people to scale down thier lives to meet thier income or get better income is useless advice for people in true dire straits.

    I lived (until a month ago) in a small rural town in alabama called jasper. I have a wife and two kids and we werent making it. I grew up on foodstamps and hud. ive even had to use those resources for my own family.

    When you live in an area with harsh employment scarcity it creates poverty because those who didnt have a good “foundation” laid by thier parents dont have the opportunities (usually) to even begin the journey to success. I know that empathy is not the strongest aspie suit, but you must keep in mind that there are circumstances that seriously devastate peoples live, through no fault of thier own. It is disrespectfull and arrogant to assume that “more discpline and hard work” is all that is needed. Usually in these cases, all that is needed is oppurtinity. Unfortunalty, capitalism creates artificial scarcity, andtherefore, some people must lose for others to win.

    Because i was raised in a poverty stricken family, in a poverty stricken county, in a poverty stricken state, i have not had the oppurtinities that alot of “middle income” families have had. The basic truth of the matter is , that my family had to lose for other families to win. Is this fair? that’s not the question. The question is, is it fair to blame me?

    keep on bloggin ;o)

    • mysticaltyger
      mysticaltyger says:

      What a bunch of baloney….This idea that some have to lose in order for others to one….and that this is created by Capitalism. It’s actually the exact opposite. Capitalism is about EXPANDING THE SIZE OF THE ECONOMIC PIE!! Now, it’s true that it doesn’t get distributed equally. But what about the people of Alabama? Why are they less prosperous than people in other parts of the country? Is it because of Capitalism? Or is it because a disproportionate number of people in Alabama are not willing to step back and look at their own limited thinking that is keeping them impoverished???? Poverty is an inner condition as well as an outer one.

  25. Charm Links
    Charm Links says:

    Bret, I’m not being funny but I grew up with nothing in a poor area and now I’m a doctor. The only way I got there was working my backside off day and night so you can’t say that capitalism has caused you to be poor at the expense of the rich. It is damned tough if you grow up in a poor area with no money, sure the odds are stacked against you but if you work as hard as you can then you can make it out of the poverty trap!

  26. Sexual Angsta
    Sexual Angsta says:

    My husband and I had to make a similar adult decision. We have two kids and decided that it was enough for us. So he got a vasectomy as my Christmas gift. (Try enjoying Christmas next to someone with blue balls.) While my maternal instinct was telling me otherwise, I knew that I had to move on from this phase of my life and do other things that would make me, and everyone else in turn, happy.

  27. Tim Driver
    Tim Driver says:

    I totally agree with what you have said – There are times when you have to make big decisions and stick by them, OK one ended in divorce for me but was the best thing I ever did – So much happier in my life now remarried with 2 boys

  28. Susan
    Susan says:

    I have been doing the same job for 25 years. I complained for about 15 of those years. Because this was not the job I’d always wanted and always thought I’d do. But it was the job I got and did well at. I started to pay more attention to the good aspects of my job. That I was well paid and appreciated and treated with respect. That I had a lot of autonomy and liked the people I worked with. Over time I stopped complaining because I stopped feeling like complaining. I realized I’d made a choice and quit looking backwards. I enjoy your blog a lot. There’s a lot of good common sense and even tough love here.

  29. Suffolk Photographer
    Suffolk Photographer says:

    I have been very lucky in my life that I have always been able to follow my dreams and do the jobs that interest me.

    While I may not have always had money to spend on anything ‘fun’, I’ve always been content that what I am doing is for me and me alone (oh, and the wife! :D )

    I often wonder what good it does if you earn masses of money, yet have such a soul destroying job that you are forced to spend all that money on frivolous things in order to justify why you have your job.

    Good on you for changing your life around.

  30. essay
    essay says:

    Business Week was right calling Penelope’s writing “poetic.” Wonderful essay. Everyone must be an adult sometime, and making big decisions. I’ll send this article to all my friends.

  31. Susan
    Susan says:

    I think the other aspect of this is that, if you DO choose to stay at a job that is less than ideal for you (for whatever reasons), you own that choice. I found that doing so eased the conflict and the unhappiness and, over time, I stopped complaining and started appreciating the positive aspects of the job.

  32. Taylor Made V Steel
    Taylor Made V Steel says:

    The fact is that most folks simply settle, they settle for a so called, disposable “Mr/Mrs” Right, they settle for raising mediocre children, they settle for a mediocre job, then they settle for their Arizona retirement complex.

  33. Mary
    Mary says:

    I’ve just recently started to read your blog (I found you through Inc.). I saw this article this morning after receiving an email that I had not made the face-to-face round of the interview process for a job I was pursuing. I had stupidly put all of my hope into it and so when I got the news this morning that I had not made the cut I was busily throwing myself a pity party. I am currently working but I am not happy for numerous reasons. Reading this post was the best medicine I could take.
    Thank you.

  34. Ted Lesher
    Ted Lesher says:

    How much of your financial chaos might be attributed to an expected co-dependency on the Farmer and maybe having him manage and task a bookkeeper for both of you?

  35. Brian Kurth
    Brian Kurth says:

    All I have to say is one big: DITTO!

    I couldn’t agree more with Penelope’s entry. Life is about making decisions. Not too long ago I had a prospective client who wanted me to reassure him that I’d be able to help him through the process of being laid-off (I could)….and maintaining the lifestyle in Manhattan to which he had grown accustomed while making $500,000 a year AND be more passionate about his work (I could not). I did not take him on as a client since he did not “get” exactly what Penelope talks about here. Sometimes life is a compromise in order to go after what you really want.

    Absolutely spot on, Penelope.

    Brian Kurth
    Brian Kurth + Company Career Consulting & Outplacement
    VocationVacation Career Mentorship Experiences

  36. Biometric
    Biometric says:

    Thanks for sharing your story. I had the same issues living in Los Angeles. The cost of living was always eating into my lifestyle and I found myself debating where to escape too. Madison is a great town. A bit cold for my tastes, but it looks like you’ve made a smart decision.

  37. Mike
    Mike says:

    I really like this post, because there’s a lot of people who seem never satisfied about everything including their jobs, I think we need to learn to be grateful, give thanks for all the things we have right now.

    SAP Tutorial

  38. London Wedding Photographer
    London Wedding Photographer says:

    I feel really grateful to be following my original passion for photography after some years of constantly changing careers. I don’t think anyone should be afraid to change careers, even if at first you have to reduce your income. At the end of the day personal happiness for yourself and your family is what counts the most!

  39. Praca w australii
    Praca w australii says:

    I think a lot of people in the comming 2 years will have these types of dilemas. Most are just not experienced in saveing – living off CC and making more and more debts – liveing way over a standard that they can afford. Hope that they just make the “fold” call before its too late.

  40. erba
    erba says:

    so happy to stumble upon this post! i’d love to see more info re transitioning from a legal support position -== to a completely different one (after the age of 40) – perhaps nursing or elder advocate
    and moving to a new area (west coast of florida,
    etc. )

  41. Daisy
    Daisy says:

    Caitlin – I don’t think that there are lots of race problems in the UK, the majority of people live quite happily together. There is an issue with social depravation but that’s another thing. Penelope, great post as always, life is for living and having kids is the toughest thing you can do. I thought that it would be easy but setting up a successful business has been easier than bringing up two kids – onwards and upwards though!

  42. Lars
    Lars says:

    An old(er) post, but still it is so true. Perhaps now even more than ever…

    A personal life rule that helped me a lot is the following:
    “I don’t spend more than one third of my net income on long term liabilities” (such as mortgage, insurance, etc).

    I.e. if I earn $3000 net a month, I will not spend more than $1000 on mortgage, insurance etc. But if I would earn $2000 a month, I would not take obligations over $666. That means living in a smaller house, driving a smaller (or no) car and cancelling the subscription to my favourite magazine.

    Some people believe it’s an insane rule and really don’t understand “why I don’t live up to my standards”. I tell them I’d rather be free to decide that every month, than to be a slave to my accounts payable.

  43. London wedding photographer
    London wedding photographer says:

    So glad to find your blog! I’ve nervously quit two jobs in my relatively short working life. The first because the stress of it was killing me (although having no safety net strangely didn’t worry me as much), and the second many years later to follow my partner to the UK, leaving a city with a ridiculously low cost of living (Houston) to move to pricey London at the height of the exchange rate disparity just before the housing market crashed. Nothing like finding oneself jobless and bleeding cash to force resourcefulness and creativity. Still working like mad to bring both of those concepts to bear on a new business. Looking forward to reading more!

  44. Great Dane Puppies
    Great Dane Puppies says:

    The more i travel and see people of different cultures that have very little money and personal possessions the more i realize happiness comes from within. After spending some time in South America its interesting to see how poor people can be some of the nicest and happiest people i have ever met. And other friends of mine who earn $200k + a year are stressed, overworked and hate their lives. One movie i love is fight club and a quote from it goes something like this. “the things you own end up owning you”

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