A New Career In A New Town: Helpful Tools & Thoughts

You’ve applied for a job. You had a nice little first interview. They would like you to come visit them for a second. This is beginning to be serious. There’s a good chance that you may be relocating and starting a new job soon. For a moment, let’s set aside the final interview jitters and focus on something that’s equally as important.

  1. Does the salary that the job is offering line up with the cost of living in the area? What do the utilities, groceries, and more in that specific area look like?
  2. Can that salary fit with your student loans and other financial obligations that you may have?
  3. What are the deductions that happen each paycheck at this particular job

A GOOD OLD SPREADSHEET

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For me there’s nothing better than a good ol’ spreadsheet to understand my family financial situation. Over the last ten years I’ve been perfecting my own Google Doc that includes not only how our spending looks paycheck to paycheck but also keeps track of utility costs per month, how much we spend on groceries each week, and much more. Someday someone will dig this up and it will be a gem of data to help someone understand how a family run by a Gen X/Gen Y operated in a world controlled by the Baby Boomers (SPOILER ALERT IT IS TOUGH).

What a spreadsheet will do is put everything right in front of you so that you can see the full picture. A spreadsheet, when properly put together, will make it so that you can plug in different numbers and estimates and immediately get a better picture of what could happen. The only tricky part comes to estimating utility costs (which we’ll get to below) and recalculating your student loan payment if you are on an income based repayment plan (IBR). However you can get a good estimate by talking to local folks and others employed by the library you may be employed at soon.

I usually run a few different scenarios based on the salary posted in the job ad. I do my best to ask the potential employer what deductions may look like when it comes to health care, retirement, and anything else. Remember: every deduction will look different at every library. I’ve seen some places pay for an employees entire health care plan. I’ve seen some take out a set amount every month. Everything is different, and I think the best thing you should remember going into all of this is that it is very wise to make sure you have an accurate picture of what your take home pay will be once you start the job.

PAYCHECK ESTIMATOR

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Head on over to the Googles and type in “WHAT WILL MAY PAYCHECK LOOK LIKE?” and you’ll get an overwhelming amount of results. I’m here to tell you that I’ve tried most of them and that the number of them that suck are in the majority. Most give you just a basic overall view of what you may expect, and most are giving you an idea that is more than what you can expect. Like I said above, no wants to expect a bigger paycheck and then realize that in reality you’re not getting as much as you expected and need.

The Paycheck City Salary Paycheck Calculator is the one tool that I’ve been using for many years now to understand what my take home pay will be post taxes and deductions. Why do I like this one so much? It’s because I can get it to display my current paycheck to within $0.41 cents of what it actually is. That’s how I know that the scenarios I am running with potential jobs/pay increases are pretty spot on. I trust the numbers that it spits out at me as long as the data I am putting in has been researched well.

PUTTING FOOD ON THE TABLE & PAYING THOSE BILLS

You can ace the interview and really enjoy the community and the job. What it all comes down to is quality of life. Can this job, the salary, and what the remains after paycheck deductions allow you to have a qualify of life that works for you and your family?

Take it from me and my experience: I didn’t have everything specifically planned out for my family and I when we made the move to Titusville PA back in 2015. We had an idea of what life would look like, but we didn’t dive into estimating what our take home pay would be as aggressively as I am advocating for in this post. Our first year was OK but by our second year we were struggling to exist, living off food stamps, never leaving our home, and just slip sliding away into the misery of being poor. There were a few other things (read all about mold and ceilings falling down here!) that didn’t help the situation, but overall we were poor, unprepared, and our quality of life suffered. I don’t think the Hoenke Family that you may have known in 2015 is the same Hoenke Family as today. These days were all a bit tired, overwhelmed, and our outlook leans a bit more towards doom & gloom scenarios. I wish I had planned more to understand what we could be facing, yet at the same time I’ve really enjoyed my time here in Titusville and I think the lessons we’ve learned have helped us grow. There’s always a good and a bad side to things. You just have to find the balance.

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