Many people pursue a career that provides a large paycheck. In some cases, this can be a very rewarding strategy.

But sometimes we find out that the job may not be as fulfilling as we had originally hoped. And that big salary? It gets a bit lost in between the high stress and low job satisfaction.

Switching to a more fulfilling career that comes with a smaller paycheck might be an option. Unless you’re carrying a debt load that prevents you from making such a career move.

Fortunately, there are steps that can alleviate this problem.

Form a Plan to Attack Your Debt

For best results, start looking at your debt as an adversary.

It is, after all, what is keeping you from doing something you really want to do. There have been volumes written on this subject, so what follows is a very brief summary of the most effective techniques I’ve seen.

  1. First, you need a complete and accurate debt picture. Download or create a spreadsheet that will let you see outstanding balances, interest rates, and monthly payment minimums. Knowing an exact total will give you a picture of what needs to be accomplished before you’re done. As you update it every month, you will also be able to see the progress you’re making.
  2. Make your monthly minimum on every debt except the smallest one. Take every spare penny you can find and pay down as much as possible on your smallest debt. Once that one is paid off, do not change the amount you contribute. Start on your next smallest debt, and add what you have been paying onto its minimum payment. When that one is paid off, keep the payment amount the same and add it to the next debt’s minimum payment, and so on. Make sense?
  3. Stay on task. It’s very tempting to lessen your payments as debts get paid off, but remember what your end goal is, and keep putting every spare dollar you can into becoming debt free. You’ll be amazed how quickly you can pay your debts off when you put significant energy into making it happen.
Start Living On Less Than You Earn

It can be tough to tighten the budget, especially if you’re living beyond your means as it is. If you hope to transition to a more enjoyable career for less pay, you need to start living right away as if you were already making less money.

Creating a new budget will have many benefits:

  • You will be able to test out how life will be when you’re living on a lower budget. Before you actually leave your current position, find out what life will be like once you change jobs. Is it doable? Can you pay your bills and have enough left over to live? Or are the undesirable parts of your existing job suddenly not so undesirable?
  • You’ll now have extra money to pay down on your debt. Use this newfound surplus from to pay your debts as quickly as you can. With determination, it won’t take as long as you think it might.
  • You’ll eventually adapts to living on a budget. After being used to a larger income, it can be difficult to make the change, so start living on a lower budget now to get your household ready.
Get Ready to Make the Move

At this point, you have a budget in place so you know exactly how much money you need to make ends meet.

As you begin your new job hunt, keep that figure in mind. Now that you are debt free, or at least mostly debt free, your options are wide open. To really get ahead of the game, continue making the same payment you’ve been making towards debt into an interest-bearing savings account or low-risk investment, like a conservative mutual fund. Savings can make the difference between an easy, stress-free career change or a far worse situation, like bankruptcy or foreclosure.

Information is Power

An old advertising campaign had the tagline, “The More You Know…”, and when it comes to finance, the more you know, the better off you are. By the time you’re out of debt, you will have a monthly household budget, you will be financially disciplined, and you will be much better equipped to take a huge financial risk like switching careers.

Congratulations! You’ve made it! Take a minute to pat yourself on the back and go get that dream job!

Through your own hard work and discipline, you’ll be in the rare situation of being without debt, and enjoying what you do for a living.

Now it’s your turn to use your new skills and knowledge to reach out and help your friends and family achieve the same goal!

Connie Solidad works for and has been writing about finances and debt consolidation for years. She’s an expert in the industry and writes about consolidating debt for individuals and credit counseling options and resources.

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