A Nonprofit Coordinator Who Switched Jobs To Protect Her Mental Space

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Young Money

Tracy is currently a nonprofit coordinator but started her career as an attorney in public service. She left her attorney position because she began to feel sad and anxious about the job and wanted some mental space. It helped that she felt comfortable with her savings and could take a pay cut. She feels much healthier at her current role, continues to work with youth, and aspires to be a department director, possibly a managing director, one day. Outside of work, she enjoys traveling and hopes to invest in real estate one day.

*Name is altered to protect identity.

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Interview with Tracy:

One of the reasons you changed jobs was to improve your mental health. Can you tell us about how you were feeling at the old job and how you feel now?

I represented youth whose lives were interrupted by ACS for better or for worse, but usually for worse. I loved the idea of that job, and I love working with youth. Still, I felt like I was a cog in the machine of unproductive intervention in the lives of families who need legitimate support. I started to feel like the better and more confident I was at my job, the less I could actually accomplish. I was growing more frustrated at judges, opposing counsel, and my own organization. In short, I was sad and anxious on the regular. My co-workers and supervisors were incredibly supportive but were stretched thin.

My new job allows me to use other strengths and be in a less hostile environment. I get to work with youth, some of whom may be dealing with ACS but have an opportunity to forge ahead. I miss my former clients and feel guilty to say that I am doing much better mental health-wise. But, I always remind myself that it's important to take care of yourself before setting out to take care of others. I also remind myself that I'm not taking care of these kids, but I'm helping them get set up so they can take care of themselves. I absolutely love that. When COVID-19 hit, and the courts had to close down, I imagined what representing youth would be like for me if I hadn't left, and I am still pleased with my decision.

You took a pay cut switching to your current job because you felt secure in your savings. How much had you saved then, and why did that feel like enough?

When the pay cut occurred, my checking account and savings account each had approximately $12k. I felt comfortable with those amounts because I have thrived with significantly less in my bank account, and I couldn't pass up the job change. Admittedly, my partner took a promotion in the restaurant industry at the time, which he left around the time COVID-19 hit. But, even during these times, I have not needed to touch my savings account. My checking usually fluctuates between $10k-$12k throughout each month.

How did that "indirect no" turn into a better offer?

I actually think my silence was helpful in negotiation! I had three interviews with the organization: 

  • one phone call with my direct supervisor
  • one practice teach with a panel of employees (there's a teaching component to my position despite me not having a background in education)
  • one interview with the three executives. 

Following the final interview, the Executive Director emailed me an offer letter and terms sheet and made himself available to talk over the phone. I took him up on that offer and spoke with him on a Friday. I asked about salary negotiation. His "counter," so to speak, was that there would be no change in salary, but I could commit to working with them for one year if I wished. I didn't confirm nor deny but asked additional questions related to the terms. I sought more information about financials in the future, benefits (considering where I was coming from benefits-wise), and PTO. We ended the call on a positive note with the knowledge that I would need to give an answer by the following Monday. I GAVE MYSELF THE WEEKEND. I knew (and even told my partner) I would take the job even without negotiating a salary, but I kept that to myself. By the end of the weekend, the Executive Director emailed me with a new terms sheet saying that I would need to commit to two years, which I was happy to agree to.

What do you like to do outside of work? How are you thinking about your finances and career?

I love traveling, which is where a lot of my money goes. For the past 10 years, I have successfully kept my budget to $1k-$2k, which covered flight, shelter, entertainment, and getting around. Short-term (6 months to 2 years), I would like to feel comfortable increasing that budget. As for mid-term (3-5-7 years) money goals, I hope to begin in real estate investments, primarily short-term renting in NY (where I am) and long-term renting in OH (where I'm from). At that same time, professionally, I plan to work my way up to management, and then search for a similar position (or equivalent level) in another city. Even further out (8-10 years), if not sooner, I would like to be in a financial position to invest in my partner's or my friends' business pursuits.

Where have you traveled? Has your budget ever felt like a barrier? How would your travel plans change with a higher budget? Where do you want to go next?

In 2019, I traveled to Havana, Cuba; Paris and Versailles, France; Seattle, WA; and music festivals in Manchester, TN, and Austin, TX. My budget hasn't felt like a barrier per se. Still, I would probably try to travel and sleep more comfortably, meaning fewer layovers and possibly more residential space. In Paris, my two sisters and I ended up sharing a bed lol. My travel plans have changed significantly due to COVID-19. I really just want to be able to visit my family in Ohio, mostly because my best friend is having twins, and my sister is due with my nephew later this year.

Do you already have any knowledge about real estate investing? If so, what resources do you consult? If not, what are you hoping to learn?

I have little knowledge of real estate investing. Still, I recently signed up with a consultant from Strategies for Wealth to help my money make more money whenever I'm ready to consider real estate investing legitimately.

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